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Witch from Springfield debunks Halloween myth

Some in Ozarks say Halloween is Satanic, and even though a Springfield witch says that's not accurate, there are lots of alternative celebrations Halloween night with the idea of bringing God into the holiday.

October 31, 2012|by Joanna Small, KSPR News | Reporter and Photographer

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Families all over the Ozarks had a busy night of trick or treating, watching for cars and sorting goodies.  But the simple act of collecting candy in costume -- for some -- is much darker than that.

Halloween is still a pretty divisive holiday; in fact ,there are churches all over the world and here in the Ozarks that ask their congregations not to celebrate it.  That's certainly not what was happening at James River Assembly of God, but the church is doing things a bit differently.

It's a massive party outside and inside the Ozark mega-church.

"We usually get around 10,000 people," Todd Yearack said.

There are costumes and candy, but no Halloween -- at least not in the title.

"[It's called] the October 31st party," and Yearack says that's not so intentional.
 
"It is an alternative to trick or treating; it's a safe place for people to come."

Safety.  Pat Allgeier isn't sure if that's why the flow of trick-or-treaters to her north side home has slowed to a sprinkling of just a few here and there.

"I miss having herds of kids come by," she reminisces.

She thinks their absence is more likely due to what she calls the misbelief of something darker.

"There's no devil involved," Allgeier said.

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Allgeier is a witch who loves Halloween, but probably not for the reasons you think.

"It is the time of the Celtic new year.  The ancient Celts only had two seasons, summer and winter.  So we're done with summer obviously, and we're going into winter and this is our new year."

Allgeier's Wiccan group performed a Samhain Circle on Sunday to mark it.  The harvest festival has been around since 800 B.C, so how did we get here?

Oddly enough, trick or treating is rooted in Christian tradition.  Back in old England, they used to celebrate All Souls or All Saints Day.  Instead of going door to door to ask for candy, the poor people of the community took to the streets to ask for food.  And that food wasn't chocolate; it was soul cakes in exchange for prayers for their dead family members.

It was actually Americans who made the holiday spooky.  Allgeier just keeps it fun.

James River Assembly does, too -- fun that Yearack says isn't anti-Halloween, just pro-Christian.

"It's an opportunity for us to share the love of Jesus on a day that otherwise maybe wouldn't be used for that type of thing," he said.

The church says events like this one and the trunk or treats aren't replacing the traditional Halloween, merely adding to them.  Halloween used to be about celebrating your neighborhood community; now it can be about celebrating a different community -- your religious community.

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