Halloween Origins and Customs
History traces Halloween back to the ancient religion of the Celtics in
Ireland. The Celtic people were very conscious of the spiritual world and
had their own ideas of how they could gain access to it - such as by helping
their over 300 gods to defeat their enemies in battle, or by imitating the
gods in showing cleverness and cunning.
Their two main feasts were Beltane at the beginning of summer (May 1), and
Samhain (pronounced Sah-ween) at the end of summer (Nov. 1). They believed
Samhain was a time when the division between the two worlds became very
thin, when hostile supernatural forces were active and ghosts and spirits
were free to wander as they wished.
"During this interval the normal order of the universe is suspended, the
barriers between the natural and the supernatural are temporarily removed,
the sidh lies open and all divine beings and the spirits of the dead move
freely among men and interfere sometimes violently, in their affairs"
(Celtic Mythology, p. 127).
The Celtic priests who carried out the rituals in the open air were called
Druids, members of pagan orders in Britain, Ireland and Gaul, who generally
performed their rituals by offering sacrifices, usually of crops and animals,
but sometimes of humans, in order to placate the gods; ensuring that the
sun would return after the winter; and frightening away evil spirits.
To the Celtics, the bonfire represented the sun and was used to aid the
Druid in his fight with dark powers. The term bonfire comes from the words
"bone fire," literally meaning the bones of sacrificed animals, sometimes
human, were piled in a field with timber and set ablaze. All fires except
those of the Druids were extinguished on Samhain and householders were levied
a fee to relight their holy fire which burned at their altars. During the
Festival of Samhain, fires would be lit which would burn all through the
winter and sacrifices would be offered to the gods on the fires. This practice
of burning humans was stopped around 1600, and an effigy was sometimes burned
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Halloween Origins and Customs
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The Origins of Halloween
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History Of Halloween
The origin of Halloween is fascinating and anyone interested in finding
out about the history of Halloween and where this American tradition was
founded, will find the information in this article to be eye-opening.
An Ancient Celebration
October 31, Halloween, is one of the more popular holidays for children.
What child wouldn't want to dress up as a monster or fairy and score a bag
of candy in the process?
See what others are saying
Blending of Paganism with
When Christianity spread to parts of Europe, instead of trying to
abolish these pagan customs, people tried to introduce ideas which reflected a
more Christian world-view. Halloween has since become a confusing mixture of
traditions and practices from pagan cultures and Christian tradition.
By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory.
During their rule of the Celtic lands, Roman festivals were combined with the
traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain. The Romans observed the holiday of
Feralia, intended to give rest and peace to the departed. Participants made
sacrifices in honor of the dead, offered up prayers for them, and made
oblations to them. Another festival was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman
goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the
incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition
of "bobbing" for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.
influence of Christianity spread into Celtic lands, in the 7th century, Pope
Boniface IV introduced All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs, to
replace the pagan festival of the dead. It was observed on May 13. In 834,
Gregory III moved All Saint's Day from May 13 to Nov. 1 and for Christians,
this became an opportunity for remembering before God all the saints who had
died and all the dead in the Christian community. Oct. 31 thus became All
Hallows' Eve ('hallow' means 'saint').
Sadly, though, many of the
customs survived and were blended in with Christianity. Numerous folk customs
connected with the pagan observances for the dead have survived to the present.
In 1517, a monk named Martin Luther honored the faithful saints of the
past by choosing All Saints Day (November 1) as the day to publicly charge the
Church heirarchy with abandoning biblical faith. This became known as
"Reformation Day," a fitting celebration of the restoration the same biblical
faith held by the saints throughout church history. [What about Halloween?]
Some trace the origins of present day
"trick-or-treat" to Samhain, which was the supreme night of demonic jubilation.
Spirits of the dead would rise out of their graves and wander the countryside,
trying to return to the homes where they formerly lived. Frightened villagers
tried to appease these wandering spirits by offering them gifts of fruit and
nuts. They began the tradition of placing plates of the finest food and bits of
treats that the household had to offer on their doorsteps, as gifts, to appease
the hunger of the ghostly wanderers. If not placated, villagers feared that the
spirits would kill their flocks or destroy their property.
was... if the souls of dead loved ones could return that night, so could
anything else,human or not, nice or not-so-nice. The only thing the
superstitious people knew to do to protect themselves on such an occasion was
to masquerade as one of the demonic hoard, and hopefully blend in unnoticed
among them. Wearing masks and other disguises and blackening the face with soot
were originally ways of hiding oneself from the spirits of the dead who might
be roaming around. This is the origin of Halloween masquerading as devils,
imps, ogres, and other demonic creatures.
Others trace "trick-or-treat"
to a European custom called "souling". Beggars would go from village to village
begging for "soul cakes" made out of square pieces of bread with currants. The
more soul cakes the beggars would receive, the more prayers they would promise
to say on behalf of the dead relatives of the donors. At the time, it was
believed that the dead remained in limbo for a time after death, and that
prayer, even by strangers could guarantee a soul's passage to heaven.
In many parts of Britain and Ireland this night used to be known as 'Mischief
Night', which meant that people were free to go around the village playing
pranks and getting up to any kind of mischief without fear of being punished.
Many of the different customs were taken to the United States by Irish and
Scottish immigrants in the nineteenth century, and they developed into 'trick
Halloween Comes to America
Traditional Halloween symbols (witches, black cats, pumpkins, candles,
masks, parties and pranks) appeared in the U.S. during the late 1800's. In
1848, millions of Irish emigrants poured into America as a result of the potato
famine. With this sudden influx of people, the holiday of Druidism found its
new home on alien shores. "Proudly Celtic, they called Halloween Oidche Shamhna
(`Night of Samhain'), as their ancestors had, and kept the traditional
observances" [Common Boundary, Sep./Oct. 1993, p.
The Jack-o-lantern is the festival light for Halloween
and is the ancient symbol of a damned soul. Originally the Irish would carve
out turnips or beets as lanterns as representations of the souls of the dead or
goblins freed from the dead.
When the Irish emigrated to America they
could not find many turnips to carve into Jack O'Lanterns but they did find an
abundance of pumpkins. Pumpkins seemed to be a suitable substitute for the
turnips and pumpkins have been an essential part of Halloween celebrations ever
Pumpkins were cut with faces
representing demons and was originally intended to frighten away evil spirits.
It was said that if a demon or such were to encounter something as fiendish
looking as themselves that they'd run away in terror,thus sparing the houses
dwellers from the ravages of dark entities. They would have been carried around
the village boundaries or left outside the home to burn through the night.
Bats, owls and other nocturanal animals, also popular symbols of
Halloween, were originally feared because people believed that these creatures
could communicate with the spirits of the dead.
have religious origins as well. Black cats were considered to be reincarnated
beings with the ability to divine the future. During the Middle Ages it was
believed that witches could turn themselves into black cats. Thus when such a
cat was seen, it was considered to be a witch in disguise.
witchcraft are dominant themes of the holiday. Witches generally believe
themselves to be followers of an ancient religion, which goes back far beyond
Christianity, and which is properly called 'wicca'. Witches are really just one
side of a modern revival of paganism -
the following of pre-Christian nature religions, the attempt to return to
worshipping ancient Norse, Greek or Celtic gods and goddesses.
witches, Halloween is a festival of the dead, and represents the "end and the
beginning of the witches year. It marks the beginning of the death and
destruction associated with winter. At this time the power of the underworld is
unleashed, and spirits are supposedly freed to roam about the earth; it is
considered the best time to contact spirits" (Halloween and Satanism, P. Phillips and
J.H. Robie, 1987, p. 146).
The apostle Paul said Witchcraft is one
of the acts of the sinful nature and those who practice it will not inherit the
kingdom of God (Galatians 5:16-21; see also Revelation 22:15).
The various activities traditional to Halloween are mostly
associated with the idea of obtaining good fortune and foretelling the future.
Samhain was a time when it was customary for the pagans to use the occult
practice of divination to determine the weather for the coming year, the crop
expectations, and even who in the community would marry whom and in what
The idea behind ducking, dooking or bobbing for apples seems to
have been that snatching a bite from the apple enables the person to grasp good
fortune. Unmarried people would attempt to take a bite out of an apple bobbing
in a pail of water, or suspended on a string. The first person to do so was
believed to be the next to marry.
Samhain is a time for getting rid of weakness, as pagans once
slaughtered weak animals which were unlikely to survive the winter. A common
ritual calls for writing down weaknesses on a piece of paper or parchment, and
tossing it into the fire.
There used to be a custom of placing a stone in the hot ashes of
the bonfire. If in the morning a person found that the stone had been removed
or had cracked, it was a sign of bad fortune. Nuts have been used for
divination: whether they burned quietly or exploded indicated good or bad luck.
Peeling an apple and throwing the peel over one's shoulder was
supposed to reveal the initial of one's future spouse.
One way of looking for omens of death was for people to visit
churchyards, because the spirits of those who were going to die during the
coming year were thought to walk around the churchyard during this
Should Christians adopt such practices?
Can we borrow pagan customs and superstitions of ancient peoples and
As believers, we are called to
"Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every
kind of evil. [1 Thesalonians 5:21-22] Who can deny that virtually all of
the symbols of Halloween are evil? Witches, monsters, ogres, vampires, ghosts,
ghouls, goblins, devils and demons all portray evil. Christians are to
"... have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of
darkness, but rather reprove them." [Ephesians 5:11]
Is Halloween just another innocent holiday that doesn't harm anyone?
Is it really just childish fun? Vandalism and wanton disregard for the property
of others is common on Halloween night. Even normally well-behaved children are
driven by unseen forces to destructive behavior. Police officials everywhere
report a great increase in such activities on Halloween. Worse yet are the
horrifying accounts of poisoned candy and fruits booby-trapped with razor
blades and needles. Such threats are so real that many hospitals offer free
X-rays of Halloween treats in order to prevent children from being harmed. Who
but Satan could inspire such monstrous actions?
Should the church be compromised by accommodating itself to the
"Do not conform any longer to
the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your
mind." [Romans 12:2]
"For what do righteousness
and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?" [2 Corinthians 6:14,
When America and the world celebrates the Festival of Samhain and the
powers of darkness by masquerading as evil creatures or decorating our homes,
schools, businesses and churches with occult symbols, Satanic power is
The sort of practices celebrated on Halloween are what defiled the
ancient nations [see Leviticus 18:24-30]. The Israelites were warned against
such practices when they entered the Promised Land, "When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God
giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those
nations." [Deuteronomy 18:9]
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, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who
consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and
because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those
nations before you. You must be blameless before the LORD your God. The nations
you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as
for you, the LORD your God has not permitted you to do so. [Deuteronomy
As an alternative to the celebration of evil and death, Christians
should rather do what Christians are supposed to do every day and that is shine
the light of Jesus Christ. We should emphasize the Christian influences and
strive to make Hallow's Eve a celebration of the acts of God through his people
the saints. We should make it a day when acts of charity instead of vandalism
and hatred abound. A day that emphasizes the light of Christ instead of the
darkness of evil. A day when people meditate on the acts of Godly people
instead of ghosts and goblins.
While you may have participated "all in fun," be assured, Halloween is
serious business for Satanists and witches. Those who oppose Christ are known
to organize on Halloween to observe satanic rituals, to cast spells, to oppose
churches and families, to perform sacrilegious acts, and to even offer blood
sacrifices to Satan. While some may say, "But we only do this in fun...we don't
practice witchcraft," those things that represent Satan and his domain cannot
be handled or emulated "for fun". Such participation places you in enemy and
forbidden territory and that is dangerous ground.
Tom Sanguinet, former high priest in the Celtic tradition of Wicca
(witchcraft) said "The modern holiday we call Halloween has its origins in the
full moon closest to November 1, the witches New Year. It was a time when
the "spirits" (demons) were supposed to be at their peak power and revisiting
the earth planet." He went on to say, "Halloween is purely and absolutely evil,
and there is nothing we ever have or will do that would make it acceptable to
the Lord Jesus." [The Dark Side Of Halloween]
As evil prevails, Americans have embraced an evil day of Satan, with
the pranks of 'would be' hoodlums, combined with 'demon faces' on pumpkins,
clothing of 'death' being worn, and calling it fun. When Christians participate
in Halloween, it sends a message to children that witchcraft, demonism,
Satanism, and the occult are something fun, entertaining and harmless.
Many years ago, C.S. Lewis wrote that one of Satan's
most deceptive tactics is to convince people that he doesn't exist. Apparently
he has done a good job in his deception. Sadly, many people think of the devil
as no more than a symbol of evil: like Santa Claus, he is just a fictional
symbol. Many people today also do not think of witches as real people who
practice magic, but simply as imaginary figures who represent the supernatural
world and everything that is 'spooky.'
Recognizing this pagan holiday
gives the false impression that what is actually lethal is innocuous.
Some children develop a fascination with the supernatural which
leads them later into more sinister occult practices. It's the spiritual
equivalent of painting a loaded gun to look like a toy and giving it to child
to play with.
It is the kind of celebration that encourages kids like
the 16-year-old in Pearl, Mississippi who stabbed his mother to death in her
sleep and then opened fire at his high school, killing two students and
wounding seven. Authorities found this student along with at least six others
involved in a small, avowedly satanic clique that calls itself "Kroth."
How some people can defend this kind of activity as just another
innocent holiday that doesn't harm anyone is beyond me.
Light has come into the world, but men
loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who
does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his
deeds will be exposed. (John 3:19-20)
Acceptance of the Supernatural
Central to Satan's goals is the widespread acceptance of the
supernatural, including the occult, on the part of North Americans, accompanied
by a great revival of spiritism all over the world.
Over the last 30 or
so years, the occult has moved into the mainstream of America - in television,
movies, magazines, business, and various aspects of daily life. Movies, books,
magazines and encyclopedias of the supernatural have abounded. Turn on your TV
and hear from the ever-present "Psychic Friends" hotline, or see lead
characters in TV shows meet their "spirit guide." Entire bookstores devoted to
the occult have become common. Universities regularly offer courses on
witchcraft and magic - usually the so-called "white" variety. Myriads of
mystical Eastern religions, bizarre and often demonic, have invaded North
America and found in most cases an amazing responsiveness.
Halloween has taken root in America. Americans spend $21 million on Halloween
candies yearly second only to Christmas in total sales. Halloween is the Number
1 season for selling humorous greeting cards. In North America, some 25 million
cards are sold annually. (Peter Smith, "By the
Numbers," The Toronto Star, 2002-OCT-27.) Halloween is the third-largest
party occasion next to Christmas and New Year's Eve.
Increasingly the curriculum in many public schools is becoming a
primer in occultism.
Impressions, a curriculum used in many school districts instructs
teachers and students in how to cast spells. One teacher's manual reads, "Tell
the children that a magician has cast a spell on some children. Have them work
in pairs to write the magic spell the magician used. Have each pair write
another spell to reverse the first spell. Have them chant their spells."
About 16,000 school districts use the Pumsey the Dragon curriculum, by
Jill Anderson. Many of the relaxation techniques used are identical to those
used in hypnosis. Another curriculum called Duso the Dolphin employs relaxation
techniques and sends hypnotized youngsters off on guided fantasies to a place
Satanism has become a phenomena that crosses the city limit into the
rural areas of our nation. It is reported there are some 6000 witches, and
approximately 10 million people are involved in the occult. However, it is very
difficult to establish how many actually participate. These individuals are
involved in a wide variety of activities from simply casting spells to human
sacrifice. The news wires carry story after story about young children being
kidnapped, only to be found later as victims of some bizarre ritualistic
As satantic involvement among our youth increases, we
begin to see the primary goal of such activity. According to Scripture (2 Cor.
4:4; Rev. 12:9), Satan's goal is to deceive man by blinding him to the truth of
the gospel and to receive worship for himself (Matt. 4:9; Isa. 14:12-14).
It has become clear that the primary goal is to alter an individual's
values and turn him against himself, his beliefs, family, God and society.
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your
adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may
devour." (1 Peter 5:8)
Young satanists believe the strong will rule with Satan. Once an
individual becomes involved, they often make a pact with Satan. They commit
themselves to a future date when they will take their own lives by suicide.
They believe if they submit themselves to Satan in death, they will come back
in another life as a stronger being and rule with him forever. According to
recent statistics, fourteen young people a day take their own lives.
Recently, a California skateboard manufacturer used a
package enclosure similar in appearance to a gospel tract to encourage
purchasers to sell their souls to the devil. The brochure titled, "Let's Make a
Deal" has a smiley-faced devil who explains to Flame Boy what happened in
heaven after he was banished: "First off, they set up a bunch of dumb rules,
and then they imposed a really strict dress code. I'l wager that people must be
quite bored up there, but hey, that's what they get for being good." He
contrasts this with, "Flame Boy, even a dimwit like you can see that hell is by
far the best place to retire. Just look at all the fun to be had." Children are
asked to sign and return a contract, by which they give possession of their
souls to the devil for eternity.
What's wrong with
It does not have even one single redeeming virtue. It is custom born
out of pagan superstition. It is a demon-inspired, devil-glorifying, occult
festival. It is an evening holy unto evil, death, and divination. The
Scriptures tells us to "Abstain from all appearance
of evil." [1Thess. 5:22]
Wake up Christian! This is the night of evil and those who love the
Lord Jesus Christ should have nothing to do with it.
We are all accountable for our choices and decisions. Ignorance is no
excuse. The choice is up to you. Have you been involved in this satanic
holiday? Do you struggle with giving it up because "it's just fun" and an
innocent opportunity for children to dress up and collect candy? Don't take my
word for it. Let God show you what he would have you do. You might begin by
praying the following:
Father in heaven
I come to you in the name of Jesus Christ to confess that I'm a sinner. I'm
sorry! Please forgive me. I believe with all my heart that Jesus Christ is Your
Son and that You raised him from the dead. I believe that Jesus Christ died for
my sins and that I might be saved. Each and everyday Father I turn my will and
my life over to Your care, and may Your Holy Spirit lead and guide me in all
the things I think , do and say. I'm Yours and You are mine. Father, please use
me that I might help others come to know and love Your Son Jesus Christ. Thank
you for saving me. Amen