By Caitlin Choveaux
Light-hearted thrills, tricks and frights add fun to Halloween's "family-friendly" festivities but the roots of this celebration are steeped in something darker than horror movies, spooky costumes and trick-or-treating.
Modern-day Halloween is the second highest grossing commercial holiday after Christmas with billions of dollars spent annually on costumes, candy and parties celebrating the supernatural and superstitious.
Disguising as ghosts, the walking-dead, witches and the grim-reaper are seen as a bit of harmless fun but where did this dark tradition originate anyway?
The word Halloween was actually derived from "All Hallows Eve", a day Christians would honor dead saints and martyrs, but the celebration itself dates back further to the ancient Celts' end of harvest festival from the 10th century.
This was also known as Samhain, or the Festival of the Dead, because the change of season to winter was believed to be a bridge to the world of the dead, allowing ghosts and the resurrected deceased to cause havoc for people and crops.
Bonfires and masks were used to ward off evil spirits or they were appeased with food offerings and sometimes even human sacrifices.
Although this is the most commonly associated link to the tradition, many other festivals worldwide celebrate a time when the dead return to mingle with the living.
Souls of the living and the dead, good and evil spirits, superstition and witchcraft can be made into a bit of a light-hearted joke at Halloween while others live in fear of some sort of spiritual reality.
The question at the back of everyone's mind is how much of the supernatural is actually real?
According to the Bible, demons and angels, heaven and hell, resurrection of the dead and the danger of witchcraft, sorcery and occult practices are no laughing matter, instead Scripture likens it to an unseen war.
In Ephesians chapter 6, verse 12, the Apostle Paul says, "We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places."
Satan is likened to a lion prowling around "looking for someone to devour" in a spiritual sense, sometimes even disguising himself "as an angel of light" to fool people.
It may all seem like fun and games but Halloween, when seen in a Biblical context, should remind us that death is inevitable, yet our souls are eternal. There are real spiritual forces at work in our world, whether we perceive them or not.
Bonfires, sacrifices, masks and rituals are not going to protect you from unseen evil, only Jesus Christ can do that because He was victorious over death and the underworld when He died and was resurrected to prove He was God.
Like any war, seen or unseen, you have to choose a side. Jesus said in Matthew chapter 12 verse 30, "Anyone who is not with me opposes me, and anyone who is not working with me is working against me."
This Halloween take time to consider the implications of this. If there really is an unseen war going on, whose side are you on? Seek protection from the only One who can rescue us "from the dominion of darkness" both in this life and the next.