National Edition

From festival to phenomenon: The evolution of Halloween in pop culture

Published: Thursday, Oct. 31 2013 6:00 a.m. MDT

Religious writer Carolyn Henderson agreed.

“It’s an American holiday that’s been simple, it’s been fun,” she said. “It’s probably the only holiday where we interact as a community.”

Richard Mouw, a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, said Halloween’s childlike party atmosphere “is a good thing.” He enjoys the yearly smattering of silly, dressed-up kids.

“It’s innocent and enduring,” he said.

A cultural shift

Halloween’s continued growth in popularity shows a shift in culture, Kinley said.

Zombies, vampires and witches are in the mainstream media, firmly entrenched in pop culture year-round and not just one day a year, he said.

“The things associated with the occult, the magical and the pagan, have not just become a fiction of the culture, but also the realities of the culture,” he said.

With culture changing, religion should shift with it, Mouw said. He said churches need to educate their communities on what Halloween is about and how in today’s society, it isn’t completely about ghosts and goblins but is more about community.

“Halloween gives us a chance to educate people," he said.

McDuff said she’d like to see people educated on Halloween’s roots and its religious connection.

Halloween's modern misinterpretation "has come from people not understanding what it once was or where it once came from,” she said. “If you have the information and you have the knowledge, you no longer have the fear.”

But that doesn’t mean the late-October celebration will cease being a little spine-chilling.

“The hairs on your back do stand up a little more, and things go a little bump during the night.”

Email: hscribner@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @hscribner

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