Ever wondered about the origins and history of Halloween? Ever wonder if it’s pagan or Christian? The annual event is complicated and has been shaped by different cultures over the centuries, so let’s take a look at this holiday and learn more about it.
The English name Halloween goes back to the medieval Catholic Church, which predates the Reformation (which is also celebrated on October 31). The word hallow is derived from an old English word meaning holy. It can also mean holy. The holiday we know as All Saints’ Day was called All Saints’ Day and the day before, when an evening mass was held, was All Saints’ Eve. It was gradually becoming Halloween.
The ancient Gaelic festival of Samhain, which took place on November 1 but started the night before, is believed to be the earliest known source of some of our Halloween traditions. Samhain (end of summer) in the Celtic religion is one of the most important and terrifying festivals of the year. On November 1, the Celts believed that the world of the gods became visible to mankind and that the gods played many evil tricks on their living human worshipers. Considered a dangerous time full of fear, people believed that all kinds of sacrifices were needed to neutralize the activities of the gods.
Samhain was an important precursor to Halloween. People believed that the dead were allowed to return to this side of the grave and interact with the living. One of the fears was that if the living did not honor the dead, the ghosts (ghosts) would haunt and curse the living. Some also believed that the bodies – the skeletons or partially decomposed bodies – of the dead would appear to harm or at least frighten people, which is why Halloween is popular for many of its ghost stories. This concept is shared by other cultures.
Connecting the church to Halloween activities and superstitions on October 31 is more complicated. Pope Boniface IV began All Saints’ Day in 609 when he dedicated the Pantheon in Rome to “Holy Mary, Ever Virgin, Mother of All Saints” on May 13. (Another source says the Pope dedicated it to “St. Mary and all the martyrs.”) Pope Gregory IV added All Saints’ Day to the ecclesiastical calendar, extending the celebration from Rome to churches everywhere, and Pope Gregory VII finally gave it. mandate to observe All Saints’ Day on November 1. With All Saints Day on November 1. Hallows’ Eve was on October 31. This may have been an attempt to offset the pagan event with a religious celebration. But it didn’t compensate for anything; it merely added a deeply pagan tradition to the ecclesiastical calendar.
The early pagan holiday of Samhain involved many polytheistic Celtic rituals and ceremonies. Gradually, the church became desensitized to the negative spiritual connotations of the celebration and incorporated the pagan traditions into Christianity.
The mystical rituals of the past evolved into more lighthearted fun and games. For example, the somewhat heavy concept of interacting with the dead was replaced by the more light-hearted idea of divination – itself a pagan practice. Bobbing for apples also became popular as a divination on All Hallows’ Eve: Apples would be selected to represent all of a woman’s suitors and the apple she eventually bit into would supposedly represent her future husband.
The candy-collection concept became mainstream in the US in the early 1900s, with families giving children treats in the hopes that they would be immune to all the holiday pranks.
As for the costumes, young Scottish and Irish pranksters came up with the idea of dressing in scary clothes as a way of terrifying unsuspecting neighbors. And thanks to these people, costumes became scary, spooky and creative at the same time.
Many people, including Christians, see nothing wrong with the annual celebration, and others—primarily Christians—still recognize its pagan origin. And still others still celebrate the day in the manner of the original Celtic Samhain.
Throughout the early to mid-twentieth century in the US, the celebration was fun, innocent, and a great social event. But gradually the spirit of the event began to show its ugly head. I don’t know about other states. When I lived in Southern California, parents found razor blades in some apples, some candies were contaminated with poison or illegal drugs, and more.
So, if you are celebrating the popular Halloween party, be careful. Take care of your children. And in all that you do, honor Jesus Christ.
— S. Eugene Linzey is an author, mentor and speaker. Send comments and questions to [email protected] Visit his website at www.genelinzey.com. The opinion expressed is that of the author.