One can readily read about the history and derivation of Halloween via the Internet, and perhaps argue whether it is a Christian-based or pagan-based tradition. In any case one is left with an unclear understanding about its origins, let alone what it "means" in today's society.
Of course, the commercial world is very certain about the boon it is to business given the scant holidays celebrated in October (Columbus Day recognizes the discovery of American but yields very little retail income).
The positive side of Halloween is the fun, excitement and treats it generates for children, and the pride and pleasure it lends to parents observing their costumed children, at a measured distance, on the door step of a "surprised" neighbor. Also, the holiday provides justification for adult festivities at parties and events for socializing in uncommon dress.
I think it is a win-win activity for business and family interests, but a purist perspective would demand why are we doing this silly thing? I feel it is actually healthy to not be yourself for part of a day once a year and to exercise one's imagination with the aid of costumes, make-up, and props. Make it more intentional as a family, neighborhood, community or even national event with focus on the positive relational aspects. Let's diminish the historical rationale, especially its spurious precedents and the sinister dimensions. Perhaps the starting point for this approach is to change the name, derived from "All Hallows Evening," focused on death and the dead, and designate it as "All Costume" Day centered on friendliness, socialability and community life. We might even call this celebration the "Allo Costume Scene," and make it a federal holiday!
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-- LOU MARTUCCI, Pasco