Okay! So firstly I am going to state that just like most of history, some things can get challenging because of the different view points that have been passed down through different cultures and even families, that end up shaping peoples' mindsets. This is not always bad, it's just the way that things have become. I just want you to know that some of this information could slightly vary depending on your source and personal view on history in general.
I will be using resources that I find to be most accurate and truth-worthy and will link to them during or at the end of the body of this post. Also- this post is more dealing with the "history behind" rather the "why I don't celebrate it" or "should Believers have anything to do with it". I think that a post more veered that direction would be a great idea for our little community, but until then I'll begin with the history of the topic. Sorry if I throw in a verse here or there, it just comes natural I guess. :)
So let's start at the beginning...
History of Halloween starts with the Celtic holiday of Samhain (pronounced 'saw-win'; there are actually three different ways, but this is the most commonly used term). This holiday was one of the most important and sinister calender festivals of the Celtic year. At Samhain, which was held on November 1, the world of gods was believed to be made visible to mankind. Sacrifices and propitiations of every kind were thought to be vital, for without them the Celts believed they could not prevail over the perils of the season or counteract the activities of the deities.
Have you raised your eyebrows yet? We see above that this Day did not come from all Hallow's Eve or all Saint's Day from the Catholic Church (though they do play a part later) as most would have us believe. But rather a pagan holiday where they believed that at this time of the year the veil between the physical world and the demonic world was thinned. The spirits were able to enter back into the world of the living from the world of the dead- from October 31-November 1.
After the Romans conquered the Celts and the Irish in the first century, Samhain (saw-win) began to get mixed with with their own feasts of the dead. Yup, they had more than one- Pomona Day and Feralia. These two intertwined with Samhain, which is not surprising. The great Pomona Day was held on November 1 in honor of the goddess Pomona, her symbol being the apple, representing the goddess of fruit, trees, and fertility. Feralia was held on February 21 simply to honor the dead.
Having already multiple days for remembering the deceased and martyred saints, it, the Catholic Church (remember that the Roman government was in charge of the Catholic Church at this time), agreed that there should be a holiday made for "All Saints". Pretty reasonable since if they didn't they'd basically be remembering at least one passed saint each day. With the backing of the Roman government, it was decided to "white wash" the Roman's day of the dead and make it into a day in which one was to pray to the dead saints.
The government thought they'd take over the day of the Saints (hold it on that same date still) but make it into of their day (Roman's) Day of the Dead. The name was changed from Feralia to the common "All Saints Day" and the date was changed in order to "kill two birds with one stone"- people on both sides are happy, while the government is still feeling like top dog for thinking of the clever solution.
May 13, 609 AD, Pope Bonifare the fourth, dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in commemoration of all Christian martyrs. e.i. All Saints Day was born. Why May 13th?
The Roman Lemuria festival was a major pagan holiday where the head of the house would get up at midnight and perform a ritual to exercise and remove dead spirits from his home. The Roman Catholics' agenda was to take over the pagan holidays from the start. Winning over the people one way or another.
Next what comes? It was moved, yet again. Noticing that the Celts were still celebrating Samhain from October 31-November 1, Pope Gregory the third in 741 AD, moved All Saints Day to November 1 to dedicate the new All Saints Temple in St. Peters, Rome. And at the same time making an effort to Christianize the pagan feast of the same day. What were they doing? They were striving to make something holy that was demonic. Wasn't this day that started out being Samhain, evil?
In 988 AD, the Catholic Church added another day, November 2, to remember all of the souls that were believed to be suspended in a place called Purgatory that needed the prayers of their loved ones. As the festival of Samhain, both of these holidays were celebrated in the same way with massive bonfires, parades, costumes, masquerading as dead saints, angels, and demons.
Then all these were again shoved together, All Saints Eve (Oct.31), All Saints Day (Nov.1), and All Souls Day (Nov.2-we'll come back to that) was combined into "Hallowmas" meaning 'holy mass'- imitating the Celtic feast of Samhain!
All Souls Day:
This really takes the cake for us as Believers- A day were people (Catholic) believe you can pray to the (dead) saints and they will pray for you. We know from Hebrews 9:27 that there is no interceding for the dead through the dead. We have just one mediator, the only one that conquered death, and that is our Messiah! Besides this, the dead can't praise the Lord (Ps.115:17) so how are they to pray for us?
From All Saints to Halloween:
In 1556, the Scottish term "All Hallows Eve" was used, meaning "Hallowed eve" or "Holy Evening". When it was used in our English language in the west, in 1745, it was pronounced, "Halloween".
Trick or Treat:
In the custom of the Samhian festival, families would put food and drink outside the front door to appease the roaming spirits and to keep them from playing tricks on them. By the Middle Ages, poor children would go door to door begging for cakes in exchange for saying prayers for the dead.
In the Samhain festival, the Celts would wear animal skins and dress up like ghosts, demons, and fairies and the like to "trick" the wondering spirits into leaving them alone.
Bobbing for Apples:
The current game dates back to when the Romans conquered Britain, bringing with them the apple tree. Remember what that was? A representation of the goddness of fruit trees, Pomona. The combination of Pomona, a fertility goddess, and the Celts' belief that the pentagram was a fertility began the origins of bobbing for apples.
I hope that most of you can now see the seriousness of this so called "Holy Day" and will at least give thoughts to your actions when you are invited to "Trunk or Treats", "Harvest Festivals", and the like. Some people have tried to put different lights on this issue, trying to weigh the odds (if that) and just have a bit of fun. After all, how is that bad? I thought about bringing that whole issue into this little history lesson, but decided to leave it at just at some of the background for now. But if you'd like me to do a follow-up post on something like, "Why we can't reclaim this day for the Lord" let me know in a comment! I think I may even like writing that up more than I did this! And unforgettably, the other unbiblical holidays that most Christians celebrate too (e.i. Valentine's day, Easter, and yes, Christmas), that just happen to have a less ugly front than Halloween does, also comes from much of the same background of paganism. So let me know your thoughts...I think a post along those lines would be something that we would all benefit from, as hard as it may be for some.
I too learned a lot from my little journey to display this to all of you. I'd like to bring to your attention whom I most relied on during this process and found to be the most beneficial.
This teaching video was a huge help in the putting together of this post. If you'd like to connect some of the dots I talked about, grab some friends and sit down with pen in hand and watch it! This channel has been amazing in my life!
Also, a bunch of my thoughts were confirmed by this great post at The Arsenal. This guy has some great articles and I was quite happy to read his writings prior to my own.
Do you want a follow up post about 'reclaiming' "Halloween"?
Did you find out something new?
What are your thoughts?
the Elder Sister and Writer