Halloween has changed. After September 11, the holiday's usual gore and horror now seem inappropriate. According to USA Today, this "kinder, gentler Halloween" is predicted to feature fewer ghost and goblin costumes and more firefighters, police officers, and angels.

The real world has become so frightening, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, that schools are taking the festive scares out of the day. Instead, many classrooms are focusing on patriotism. According to the Inquirer, some teachers are even "suggesting that Halloween be more like the Fourth of July this year."

Along with new sensitivities and deepened patriotism, events since the terrorist attacks have also added increased fear to Halloween. Recent media coverage has focused on how rumors, anthrax worries, and extra precautions will change Halloween for many communities.

These added fears and cautions might have many parents reconsidering how they treat Halloween—something Christians have extensively analyzed and debated.

To celebrate or not to celebrate

October 31 has historically been a controversial date for Christians. Originally a Celtic festival, Samhain, the last day of October became All Hallows Eve in the eighth century when Pope Gregory III moved All Saints' Day (or Hallows' Day) to November 1. The move was a means to claim the day for Christians, yet connections to pagan, Wiccan, and Druid beliefs remained.

These ties have long split Christian thought on whether to engage in the holiday, celebrate it in alternative Christian ways, or boycott it altogether.

In 1982, Christianity Today corporate editor Harold L. Myra wrote that Halloween gives Christians the opportunity to "celebrate the fact that at death we pass from the land of shadows into the land of light." ...

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