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The Truth About Halloween
Is Halloween celebrated where you live? In the United States and Canada, Halloween is widely known and celebrated every year on October 31. Halloween customs, though, can be found in many other parts of the globe. In some places holidays are celebrated that, although named differently, share similar themes: contact with the spirit world involving the spirits of the dead, fairies, witches, and even the devil and demon angels.
—See the box “Celebrations Like Halloween Worldwide.”
PERSONALLY, you may not believe in supernatural spirits. You
might simply view taking part in Halloween and similar celebrations as a way to have fun and teach your
children to explore their imagination. Many people, though, regard these celebrations as harmful for the
“Halloween,” explains theEncyclopedia of American Folklore, “is integrally related to the prospect of
contact with spiritual forces, many of which threaten
- or frighten.” (See the box “Halloween Time Line.”) Likewise, many celebrations like Halloweenhave pagan origins and are deeply rooted in ancestor worship. Even today, people around theworld use these days to make contact with supposed spirits of the dead.
- Although Halloween has been viewed mainly as an American holiday, each year people in moreand more countries have been adopting it. Many newcomers to the celebration, however, areunaware of the pagan origins of Halloween symbols, decorations, and customs, most of which arerelated to supernatural beings and occult forces.
—See the box “Where Did It Come From?”
- Thousands of Wiccans, who follow ancient Celtic rituals, still call Halloween by the ancientname Samhain and consider it to be the most sacred night of the year. “Christians ‘don’trealize it, but they’re celebrating our holiday with us. . . . We like it,’” stated the newspaperUSA Today when quoting a professed witch.Celebrations like Halloween are in conflict with Bible teachings. The Bible warns: “Theremust never be anyone among you who . . . practices divination, who is soothsayer, auguror sorcerer, who uses charms, consults ghosts or spirits, or calls up the dead.”
—Deuteronomy 18:10, 11, The Jerusalem Bible; see alsoLeviticus 19:31; Galatians 5:19-21.In view of the foregoing, it is wise for you to know about the dark origins of Halloween andsimilar celebrations. Having this fuller understanding may move you to join many otherswho do not participate in these holidays.“Christians ‘don’t realize it, but they’re celebrating our holiday with us. . . . We like it.’” —The newspaper USA Today, quoting a professed witch
CELEBRATIONS LIKE HALLOWEEN WORLDWIDEHalloween has generally been regarded as an American holiday. Yet this celebration hasbecome popular in many parts of the world. Additionally, there are other festivities that arelike Halloween in that they celebrate the existence and activity of spirit creatures. Shownhere are some of the popular holidays like Halloween around the globe.
- North America - Day of the Dead
- South America - Kawsasqanchis
- Europe - Day of the Dead and variations of Halloween
- Africa - Dance of the Hooded Egunguns
- Asia - Bon Festival
WHERE DID IT COME FROM?
The Origin of Some Halloween Customs and SymbolsVAMPIRES, WEREWOLVES, WITCHES, ZOMBIES: These creatures have long beenassociated with the evil spirit world.CANDY: The ancient Celts tried to appease wicked spirits with sweets. The church laterencouraged celebrants to go from house to house on All Hallows’ Eve, asking for food inreturn for a prayer for the dead. This custom eventually became Halloween’s trick or treat.COSTUMES: The Celts wore frightening masks so that evil spirits would mistakenly thinkthe wearers were spirits and would leave them alone. The church gradually amalgamatedpagan customs with the feasts of All Souls and All Saints. Later, celebrants went fromhouse to house wearing costumes of saints, angels, and devils.PUMPKINS: Carved, candlelit turnips were displayed to repel evil spirits. To some, thecandle in the turnip represented a soul trapped in purgatory. Later, carved pumpkins weremore commonly used.
HALLOWEEN TIME LINE
FIFTH CENTURY B.C.E.The Celts observe the festival of Samhain at the end of October, when they believe ghostsand demons roam the earth more so than at other times.FIRST CENTURY C.E.The Romans conquer the Celts and adopt the spiritistic rituals of Samhain.SEVENTH CENTURY C.E.Pope Boniface IV is said to have established the annual celebration of All Saints’ Day tohonor martyrs. *ELEVENTH CENTURY C.E.The second of November is designated as All Souls’ Day to commemorate the dead.Observances surrounding All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day are collectively calledHallowtide.EIGHTEENTH CENTURY C.E.The name of the holiday, Hallowe’en (Hallow Evening) appears in print as Halloween.NINETEENTH CENTURY C.E.Thousands of people who move from Ireland to the United States bring with themHalloween customs that, in time, combined with similar customs of emigrants from Britainand Germany, as well as Africa and other parts of the world.TWENTIETH CENTURY C.E.Halloween becomes a popular nationwide holiday in the United States.TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY C.E.Commercial interest in Halloween grows into a worldwide multibillion-dollar industry.
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