While Halloween gets its contemporary name from a shortening of "All Hallow's Eve," or the night before All Saints Day Nov. 1, many of its traditional symbols and activities go back to much older pagan seasonal observances.
Christian churches that want children to be able to enjoy the "trick-or-treating" aspect of Halloween but don't wish to emphasize the more scary and gruesome aspect that costumes and themes can take, or want to offer activities for parents who may be concerned about children's safety, often have decided to offer alternative celebrations to going door-to-door.
New Song Community Church in Bismarck has been organizing a "Trunk or Treat" event for the past two years.
Last year, New Song Community Church prepared for Trunk or Treat by buying 1,500 hot dogs.
By the time the Trunk or Treat event was over, all the free hot dogs had been given out and then some.
New Song's founding pastor, Larry Jahnke, used its hot dog giveaway as a way to make a rough attendance estimate of about 2,000 for kids and their family members who showed up for the alternative to Halloween celebration at the church, which is at 3200 N. 11th St.
So to prepare for this year's event, New Song organizers are buying 2,000 hot dogs, he said.
At Trunk or Treat, colunteers bring their vehicles to New Song's large parking lot. They park in a circle, "wagon-wheel style," Jahnke said, decorate their cars and fill the trunks with candy.
Kids and families are invited to come in costume to go from vehicle to vehicle to trick-or-treat.
Last year, 30,000 pieces of candy were given away, Jahnke said. New Song's Trunk or Treat runs from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday.
With growing numbers of kids showing up, New Song has hired security to direct foot traffic across the streets nearby, Jahnke said.
Mandan also will have a Trunk or Treat event - theirs will be at Mandan United Methodist Church from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday in the church's new south parking lot at 610 12th St. N.W.
Vehicle trunks will be decorated; parents are invited to bring their kids in costume to get their treats.
Also in Bismarck, Capital Christian Center calls its celebration on Monday "A Night in the Light."
The event will be at the church at 3838 Jericho Road, which is just off Centennial Road in east Bismarck. The public is invited to come for candy and games from 6 to 8 p.m.
Adults and teens have set up creative games for people of all ages. Those attending are encouraged to dress up in biblical or fun costumes.
A light supper of chili and hot dogs will be provided without charge. Any donations for the meal will go toward "Speed the Light," an organization that purchases vehicles for missionaries overseas.
The church's pastor, Dan Kent, said the goal of the evening is to provide families with a safe and exciting time; people from surrounding neighborhoods are particularly invited.
For more information, call Capital Christian Center at 255-1388.