Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Origins of Halloween

Halloween is not my favourite time of year.  For reasons previously unexplored, I have felt uncomfortable with the notion of it for many years already.  Having recently just completed the very most basic of research into its origins and meanings, I am even more doubtful about whether this is something I want to promote in my household.  Let me tell you a wee bit about what I learned...perhaps this won't be new for you:
  • It began with the Celtic people up to 2,000 years ago.  They used this day to honour Samhain, the 'lord of death,' who called together wicked spirits; it was believed that on this night the souls of the dead returned to their earthly homes to be entertained with food; failure to provide food meant that the wicked spirits wouldn't be exorcised.  The practice of giving an 'offering' has continued, though many other practices associated with this day have changed over the years.
  • There is a connection to Christianity, specifically to the Roman Catholic Church.  All Saints Day was originally held on a different day, but was eventually moved to November 01; thus October 31 became All Hallows Eve, intended to honour all saints who didn't have a special day of their own.   The church essentially confiscated the pagan day for its own uses, and incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain to further its mission to convert pagans.  Ironically, the celebrations marked very divergent belief systems: one in respect of evil spirits; the other honouring saints.
There are other connections and 'tie-ins' with witchcraft, and other belief systems and practices...but to be honest, I didn't really feel like delving into this stuff any further.  It kinda freaks me out.

We did have some fun as a family on Halloween, and for us it was something very different from what was originally intended...but this is food for thought for the future.

I'll post in a moment about how we spent our Halloween.


  1. I am eager to give my unsolicited opinion, as this is a subject I have wrestled with in the past! It seems to be a trend that I see happening with more and more of my Christian friends that they are choosing to abstain from halloween festivities as they do not like what it represents, etc...and for a bit, I thought my hubby and I would do the same. I had a thought though, that changed my perspective on it. I don't think that as a christian, my response to things that are counter-christian, should be to pull away and have nothing to do with them...halloween HAS elements that are evil and dark, and for that very reason, I think we should inject ourselves into it. Also, it is one of the best times of the year to have a great reason, to walk my kids around our neighborhood and meet our neighbors. We have conversations with those that live on our street that we wouldn't otherwise have...I'm not saying I have the answer to this one, and certainly, I do not judge my friends who choose not to participate, we all do what we feel is right for our families and teaching our kids...this is our families perspective on it!


  2. Very interesting though Flora, and one that I'm going to think about. I'd not ever thought about Halloween from these perspectives and I really appreciate it. It's interesting that when we got home from the halloween party and decided to visit a few neighbours' houses, it was simply because we wanted to say hi and have Matthew interact with them as well...which is exactly your point, I'm thinking.

    Thanks Flora! I love thinking of new perspectives on things.