The Origins of Halloween

The Origins of Halloween

The All American Holiday (From the tract by Grotto Press)

The Date.

Pope Gregory III (d 741) moved All saints Day from May 13th to November 1st to coincide with the dedication of a new cathedral. Of course the evening vigil was celebrated on October 31st hence All Hallows Eve or Hallowe'en.

The Dead

In 997 St. Odillo of Cluny, S. France, added a feast of All Souls. (faithful departed in heaven and purgatory) However, the Irish wondered about those in hell. They thought that the damned might cause trouble if they weren't remembered. So, at least in Ireland, ALL the dead were remembered even though "All Damned Day" was never allowed in the church calendar.

The Costumes

In the 14th and 15th centuries the French started "The Dance Macabre" which was an artistic reminder of their own mortality at a time when the Bubonic Plague was sweeping their country. (Europe lost half her population.) To do this dance, held on All Soul's day, November 2nd, they dressed up in ghoulish costumes. In North America in the 1700s, the French and Irish settlers began to intermarry thus the two costumes were blended.

Trick or Treat

During the 1500s through the 1700s in Protestant England, Catholics were persecuted and many martyred. (It was a capitol offense for a priest to say Mass.)

One of their attempted uprisings against their oppressors backfired when Guy Fawkes, the man guarding the gunpowder, meant to blow up King James I, was captured and hanged.

So November 5th became a great celebration for the Protestants in England (to this day). During that period, bands of revelers would visit Catholics in the dead of night, dressed up in masks, demanding beer and cakes for their celebration. Thus "trick or treat".

Witches and Jack-O-Lanterns

In the late 1800s the greeting card industry tried introducing "The Halloween Card" and since Halloween was already creepy, why not add witches? Also in the 1800s, ill-informed folklorists thought that Halloween was druidic and pagan in origin. Since pagans had used lamps made of turnips (not pumpkins) in their harvest festival, these were added too.


So enjoy being an American, have fun at Halloween but remember its origins; it was a time to remember saints and loved ones, faithful souls who died. Obviously as Christians we stand against witchcraft ("There shall not be found among you any one who...practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD ." Deuteronomy 18:10-12) but we can still have wholesome fun and yet teach our children the real meaning of Halloween.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing the info about Halloween. Before Halloween this year I took the time to surf the net about Halloween and I am so thankful to God for leading me to GodTube.com where there were testimony videos of an ex-witch. Her testimonies were very moving and so loud and clear. My family and I been doing just like everyone else dress up our daughter went out trick or treat I think three times, one in year 2003,2004 and 2005. My husband and I really don't want to do it but our friend and our new neighbor insists that we go out trick or treat and so we just went along. I did not care much at that time; I take it as a fun time for our daughter to dress up asking candies with her friends. 2006 came along. That year and that day my daughter came home from school with bag of candies and somehow she ate candies that has peanuts in it so she broke up have to give her two doses of Benadryl, because she is allergic to peanut in a way it is a blessing too because I really don't want her to go out that Halloween night so we did not go.

And in 2007 as I mentioned above I took the time to do my own research and watching few videos about Halloween and also by the grace of God, I told my husband that I am not going to let our daughter go out trick or treat this time and in the years to come too and he is okay with it. And when times for me to tell my daughter (she is seven years old) and surprisingly she is okay with the idea. I told her that not just this year but also in the years to come. I did show her the testimonies video to her and she is really into it asking many questions. I really try my best to explain it to her in a way a seven year old could understand. I am so proud and happy and glad that she understands. We have a long talk that day I think few days before Halloween. I guess like you said we as the parents need to tell our children the truth and in my case she is not mad at all for not dressing up as her favorite character etc. Never hurt to tell our children the truth. The only upsetting feed back from this was her friend mad at her when she told her friends what I have told her about Halloween. Came home cry. Bless her heart and I told her that it is okay as long as you know the truth. We have no right to tell other people what to do. You can explain your position but you just cannot force or tell them what to do. Her friends even threaten her by telling her that they don't want to be her friend etc telling her that "your mother is wrong" I told her again that is okay. If their parents allowed them to celebrate that is their choice. We made ours so after Halloween I did not hear anything anymore from her about her friends. Kids just kids. They remember quickly and they forget quickly too.

Blackie said...

Thanks Nan,

I don't really see anything wrong with Halloween so long as you tell your kids what's really up with it all.

A smart Christian can use it for an excellent opportunity for faith sharing, and that is one reason that I use the tract that that whole post actually comes from.

There is no reason in the world for us to dress up as witches, ghosts, demons or whatever when in fact there are more than ample heroes and saints that we can portray that will actually get the feast back to it's real origins.
The peace of the Lord be always with you.

Anonymous said...

Greetings to you Blackie,

Thank you for replying back. Oh yes I agree with what you said about Halloween.

I bookmark your site for future reference. Though I am a Catholic I still have a lot to learn and understand. I am originally from Malaysia back then we do not have any access to information tools about our Catholic faith. We just rely on the priests and pastors and the Holy Bible. Now that I am in the State truly a blessing to me because I have access to many good sources such as the Church I go to and also internet. And I am so glad I found your site. Trust me I have been tempted before about my faith in the Catholic Church, asking myself am I in the right path after listening what non Catholic said about the Church but Praise the Lord, I came across many many testimonies like yours on the net and also on EWTN. Thank you so much for sharing your journey home testimony.

You keep up the good work ya and God bless you abundantly.

The peace of the Lord is always with you too.