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Is Halloween a Christian Holiday?
Tomorrow is Halloween or “All Hallows Eve”, and is it okay for Christians to celebrate it? After reading about it, and what I have concurred, Halloween has Pagan and Christian origins. Pagan in the way that the ancient Celts’ last day of the year was on October 31st, and they would bring in all their livestock as a way of getting ready for the upcoming winter. October 31st marked the end of summer and was commemorated with a festival called Samhain (‘sow-ane’). The next day, the winter season began. The way they celebrated their Samhain festival or “Summer’s End” festival, is much like spring cleaning in today’s modern context, “it mostly involved eating a lot, cleaning the household, extinguishing the hearth fires and restarting them in a gesture of renewal, commemorating those who had passed away during the year, and dancing around a communal bonfire.” (Sandy Love, the True History of Halloween).
Furthermore, the day of Samhain was a day in limbo, that it was neither the old year nor the new year, so with much superstition about the changing of the seasons there was the belief there were spirits wondering about, like fairies and ghosts. Therefore, to counteract that, the ancient Celts would dress up in costumes, make loud noises, and parade the streets. This is where the “evil” side of Halloween came from.
The Christian part of the History of Halloween comes from the Roman Catholic Church in 800 AD. In an attempt to combine all three festivals into one, they combined Feralia and Pomona’s Day with Samhain. “Pomona’s Day was originally a harvest festival in honor of the Roman goddess of fruits and trees; this may explain the tradition of bobbing for apples. Feralia was a day for mourning and remembering the dead,” (Love). Therefore, with all these festivals combined into one, it is a no brainer that people felt the need to dress up. All saints day, November 1st, began at sunset the night before. In order to scare away the evil spirits, that the Celtics said were there, people would dress up as Saints to commemorate “All Saint’s Day” also known as “All Hallows Day”. ‘Hallo’ is a word which means ‘Holy’ and ‘ween’ means ‘eve,’ and soon the phrase became known as ‘Halloween’. “A later custom developed where people would go door-to-door on Nov. 2 requesting small cakes in exchange for the promise of saying prayers for some of the dead relatives of each house. This arose out of the religious belief that the dead were in a state of limbo before they went to Heaven or Hell and that the prayers of the living could influence the outcome,” (Matt Slick, Where did Halloween Come From? Can a Christian Celebrate it?) This is an interesting thought, this might be where Tick-or-Treating came from.
All-in-all, hiding from the dead or praying for the dead has been a part of the Halloween tradition for centuries. Whether or not you decide to pray on Halloween or participate in its festivities that is up to you, just remember:
“10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD…” Deuteronomy 18:10-12
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- Love, Sandy. “The True History of Halloween.” All About Halloween: The Complete Source. (2005 -2015) Web. 30 Oct. 2015
Slick, Matt. “Where did Halloween Come From? Can a Christian Celebrate it?” Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry. Web. 30 Oct. 2015