Christian roots of Halloween

Christian roots of Halloween

Halloween is another holiday that started as a pagan ritual.  The early church, in response to Christians unwilling to refrain from certain pagan ways, tried to provide Believers with an alternative.

The Pagan Origin of Halloween

The name “Halloween” comes from the All Saints Day celebration of the early Christian church, a day set aside for the solemn remembrance of the martyrs. All Hallows Eve, the evening before All Saints Day  began the time of remembrance. “All Hallows Eve” was eventually contracted to “Hallow-e’en,” which became “Halloween.”

As Christianity moved through Europe it collided with entrenched pagan cultures and customs.  The church’s strategy was to counter pagan influences and provide a Christian alternative.

The pagan Samhain festival celebrated the final harvest, death, and the onset of winter.  It lasted three days—October 31 to November 2. During Samhain many engaged in occult practices such as divination and communication with the dead.

This was a problem for newly converted Christians who looked to the Bible for  guidance.

“There shall not be found among you anyone…who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord .”

(Deuteronomy 18:10-13)

But, like today, early Christian converts found cultural influences hard to withstand and they participated in many pagan festivals, including Samhain.

Pope Gregory IV provided an alternative by moving the celebration of All Saints Day in the ninth century—he set the date at November 1, right in the middle of Samhain.

The idea was to celebrate the souls of martyrs rather than the dark side of the spiritual world.

Unfortunately, pagan superstitions gradually gave way to “Christianized” superstitions.

Halloween became an American holiday after the working classes from the British Isles immigrated in the late nineteenth century. While early immigrants may have believed the superstitious traditions, it was the mischievous aspects of the holiday that attracted American young people.

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5 Comments

  1. Mama Mia

    Yeah, we’ve got some idiots down the road, in the neighborhood, a few streets over, that thinks it is Halloween already, and are already shooting off fireworks, big loud ones…….like Halloween is the time for fireworks???

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  2. Mama Mia

    How about Ms. Katy Perry fixed up for Halloween in costume as Hillary Clinton? I would call the look more like a Hillary/Margaret Thatcher look. Well, how is that for a little insight into the future, as to how Ms. Perry might look when she is all grown up and a matronly nasty woman??? LOL.

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  3. Mama Mia

    Reading the Orlando Sentinel’s Florida Flashback today, the author referenced Apopka. She told of how outhouses would somehow find their way upon top the roofs of the Apopka Memorial High School on Halloween during the night. She said it was in the 60’s and even earlier. Now, I can attest that it was also in the early to middle 70’s, as I remember the outhouses on the school’s roofs. I have a photo of myself in my hiphugger jeans with a corncob pipe in my mouth and a hillbilly hat on my head made there at the old AMHS in front of one of the outhouses. I don’t know when the tradition ended, but I do remember an outhouse at least one year at the newer AHS where it is located now, but I think that was the first school there, before it was rebuilt at the same location, not the one there now. Oh, and the cases of eggs from the egg farms, and the pillow cases of eggs and the egg fights and hiding in the bushes, dressed as thugs on Halloween!!!! Not very constructive, but so much fun. Toilet papering trees too. Thugs we were. And the horror movies at the drive-ins! The Ri-Mar, the Starlite, Prarie Lake, and the Pine Hills Drive-in, way before it became Crime Hills.

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  4. Mama Mia

    I am happy to report our street lights are now repaired and working! Duke Energy came back and brought the lift truck and worked hard getting them back on and repaired. Our street lights were out before the hurricane. It was dark and spooky on our street without them. So Happy Halloween everybody! And thanks Duke Energy! If there is any trick or treating on our street tonight, at least they can see and be seen.

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