The Origins of Halloween
Halloween is the most polarizing holiday that crosses our annual calendars. Essentially being distinguished as the devils holiday, even liberal mainstream Christianity from coast to coast recognizes that it has “bad origins”. The majority of us may not even know why. In this article we will learn about the holiday most of us avoid like “scared little children.”
Halloween, also known as the Wiccan “Witches New Year”, originated among the Celtic Druids in the United Kingdom and Europe. This celebration marked the end of summer, the final harvest and the beginning of winter. October 31 and November 2 marked the Vigil of Samhain, The God of the Dead. It was considered the greatest spiritual festival of the year. It was believed that during this time the barrier between this world and the Celtic Otherworld was weakest for a short time; thus spirits of the departed dead and spiritual demons could temporarily re-enter our realm.
At this point, the Celtic responses vary greatly from dark and evil to deceived and desperate. Provided on which historical resource you reference, hundreds of variations exist. Depending on their purpose and intent, some conducted ancient druid rituals seeking power or favor with Samhain. In some rituals a great fire would be built and prisoners of war, criminals or animals would be burned alive. It was supposed that the positions of their charred bones could foretell of the future (bone+fire=bonfire). Others held seances, seeking to communicate with lost loved ones, or sessions of divination, to gain guidance from the loosed spirits. Those that cowered in fear sought merely to appease the vengeful spirits and demons with food and treats or to ward them off with deceptive costumes or hand-carved spiritual charms (such as carved turnips or pumpkins). Like any other segment of religious history there was a wide spectrum of people ranging from extreme fanatics to deceived victims.
On the Christian front, the Catholic Church and Pope Boniface IV first celebrated “All Saints Day” on May 13th, 609 or 610 AD. This was intended to honor all deceased apostles, saints and martyrs. This celebration remained in May until it was moved by Pope Gregory IV to November 1st in 835AD to closer coincide with pagan Vigil of Samhain. It is now understood that our current October 31st “Halloween” is merely “All Hallows Eve” or the night before “All Saints” day. The Celtic pagans continued their old celebrations in name of their new Christian faith when their holidays happened to conveniently overlap. Whether the people were truly honoring Samhain or Christ was mostly irrelevant because the Catholic Church and the world had begun celebrating hand-in-hand.
I recently spoke to a seasoned minister whom I hold in high esteem that I would be writing about the origins of Halloween. He observed that the current generation seems to have an obsession with the supernatural world. There is an untold number of movies (such as Twilight, Paranormal Activity, etc) and TV shows (such as Supernatural, True Blood, Walking Dead, etc). One need only to search on Google to find the above named and many more. America does not need a wicked day of “Halloween” to get its fill of spiritual corruption; it has found ways to partake of it the remaining 364 days. In modern American society, every day has become Halloween.
Surely we as Christians should not celebrate what we know to be a holiday born in wickedness and evil. Yet focusing only on the evil of Halloween is not spiritually productive if the Church turns a blind eye to the wickedness that permeates our society the rest of the year. The trap of demonizing one day of the year gives the impression that by shunning that one evil day, we have successfully dealt with the wickedness of all the rest of the year. There has never been a greater need to pray and fast, to proclaim Christ, to shun the very appearance of evil (James 4:7, I Thessalonians 5:22, I John 2:15-17). We need to stand for truth and righteousness in the midst of evil (Leviticus 19:31, Numbers 16:26, Deuteronomy 18:9-14, Isaiah 8:19, Ephesians 6:11-18). We can have faith in knowing that even while sin abounds, God’s grace is more abounding (Romans 5:20). In the midst of wickedness, we conquer through Christ (Romans 8:31-39, II Timothy 1:7, I John 4:4).
Halloween has evil origins. Yet Halloween is one day. We, as Christians, need to take back the night! Every dark day! Every dark night! Day after day!
The above article, “The Origins of Halloween” is written by Tim Morey. The article was excerpted from Focus on Alabama, Vol 13, No. 10.
The material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.