21 Facts Everyone should know about Halloween
Why Christians should not celebrate or observe Halloween.
In the Bible God says “My people are destroyed for a lack of Knowledge” Hosea 4:6
Knowledge gives us the power to live a victorious life and for this reason people should educated themselves on the pagan origins of Halloween. Jesus said the Truth shall make you free (John 8:32) and below are 21 facts everyone should know about Halloween.
1. Halloween was itself originated in paganism: In ancient Britain and Ireland, the Celtic Festival of Samhain was observed on October 31, at the end of summer. The souls of the dead were supposed to revisit their homes on this day and the autumnal festival acquired sinister significance, with ghosts, witches, goblins, black cats, fairies and demons of all kinds said to be roaming about. It was the time to placate the supernatural powers controlling the processes of nature. In addition, Halloween was thought to be the most favorable time for divinations concerning marriage, luck, health, and death. It was the only day on which the help of the devil was invoked for such purposes.
2. The origins of Halloween are Celtic in tradition and have to do with observing the end of summer sacrifices to gods in Druidic tradition. In what is now Britain and France, it was the beginning of the Celtic year, and they believed Samhain, the lord of death, sent evil spirits abroad to attack humans, who could escape only by assuming disguises and looking like evil spirits themselves. The waning of the sun and the approach of dark winter made the evil spirits rejoice and play nasty tricks. Believe it or not, most of our Halloween practices can be traced back to these old pagan rites and superstitions.
3. In early American history, Halloween was not celebrated due to America’s strong Christian heritage. Many of the Christian groups who settled America like the Pilgrims, Puritans, Quakers and Baptists refused to observe All Saints Day – let alone Halloween.
It was not widely observed until the twentieth century. Initially, it was practiced only in small Irish Catholic settlements, until thousands of Irish migrated to America during the great potato famine and brought their customs with them. To some degree, our modern Halloween is an Irish holiday with early origins in the Celtic winter festival. Interestingly, in American culture, the rise in popularity of Halloween also coincides roughly with the national rise in spiritism that began in 1848.
4. Halloween is an Irish Holiday: Ireland is the only place in the world where Halloween is actually a national holiday (celebrated with fireworks); children are even released from school for the week.
(Ireland is also the source of the jack-o-lantern fable: A man named Jack was not able to enter heaven because of his miserliness, and he could not enter hell because he played practical jokes on the devil; so he was condemned to walk the earth with his lantern until judgment day.)
5. Trick or Treating and dressing up in costumes is a large part of the pagan practice know as Halloween. The idea of trick-or-treating is further related to the ghosts of the dead in pagan and in Celtic history. For example, among the ancient Druids, “The ghosts that were thought to throng about the houses of the living were greeted with a banquet-laden table. At the end of the feast, masked and costumed villagers representing the souls of the dead paraded to the outskirts of town leading the ghosts away.”
6. Halloween was thought to be a night when mischievous and evil spirits roamed freely. As in modern poltergeist lore, mischievous spirits could play tricks on the living—so it was advantageous to “hide” from them by wearing costumes. Masks and costumes were worn to either scare away the ghosts or to keep from being recognized by them: In Ireland especially, people thought that ghosts and spirits roamed after dark on Halloween. They lit candles or lanterns to keep the spirits away, and if they had to go outside, they wore costumes and masks to frighten the spirits or to keep from being recognized by these unearthly beings.
7. Halloween masks and costumes were also used to hide one’s attendance at pagan festivals or—as in traditional shamanism (mediated by a witch doctor or pagan priest) and other forms of animism—to change the personality of the wearer to allow for communication with the spirit world. Here, costumes could be worn to ward off evil spirits. On the other hand, the costume wearer might use a mask to try to attract and absorb the power of the animal represented by the mask and costume worn. According to this scenario, Halloween costumes may have originated with the Celtic Druid ceremonial participants, who wore animal heads and skins to acquire the strength of a particular animal.
8. The “trick” custom of Halloween, this is related to the idea that ghosts and witches created mischief on this particular night. For example, if the living did not provide food, or “treats,” for the spirits, then the spirits would “trick” the living. People feared terrible things might happen to them if they did not honor the spirits. The Druids also believed that failure to worship their gods would bring dire consequences. If the gods were not treated properly in ritual, they would seek vengeance. This was therefore a day of fear. Further, some people soon realized that a mischievous sense of humor, or even malevolence, could be camouflaged—that they could perform practical jokes on or do harm to others and blame it on the ghosts or witches roaming about.
9. Halloween traditions often involve fruit centerpieces, apples, and nuts. Three of the sacred fruits of the Celts were acorns, apples, and nuts, especially the hazelnut, considered a god, and the acorn, sacred from its association to the oak. Fruits and nuts also seem to be related to the Roman harvest feast of Pomona, apparently the goddess of fruit. For example, in ancient Rome, cider was drawn and the Romans bobbed for apples, which was part of a divination that supposedly helped a person discover their future marriage partner.
10. Halloween is fear-based not faith-based. Which is why it became a natural expression of Halloween to tell ghost stories when dead souls were believed to be everywhere, and good, mischievous, and evil spirits roamed freely. These stories further originated as a personal expression of these beliefs. Most all the activities that this Oct 31st “Festival of The Dead” involves; such as dressing up in costumes, carving jack-o-lanterns, building bon fires, and trick-or-treating all have their roots in fear. People were scared of what they thought evil spirits would do to them if they did not participate in these pagan rituals, so that participated to appease what they believed were evil spirits. Many people in modern times do not know that much of all the activities they take part in on Halloween, were done in fear of evil spirits by the Druids and Celtic people centuries ago and those same fear-based rituals have now been masked under what we refer to as Halloween. These are the same pagan rituals of old and they are still practiced on Oct 31st but under another name, Halloween, to disguise the fear and evil that these practices truly represent.
11. The Celts celebrated their new year on November 1st, which marked the end of the summer harvest and the beginning of the dark winter. This supposedly was the time when their sun god, Muck Olla, was losing his strength, since the leaves were dying and the days were getting shorter. They believed that on the night before their new year, the spirits and demons were at the peak of their power and this was the time when the ghosts of the dead revisited the earth to possess and haunt the people. The Celts believed that the laws of nature were suspended on this night, which allowed the dead and the powers of darkness to freely interact with the rest of the world. In order to avoid being possessed, the Celts would dress up in hideous costumes and parade around town, making all kinds of noise and wreaking havoc in an effort to scare away the evil spirits. The Druid priests would lead the villagers in diabolical worship ceremonies where offerings were burnt over their “sacred” bonfires. Some accounts speak of human sacrifices, the demon possessed being burned at the stake, and all kinds of magic. The people would leave delicacies and wine outside their homes so that the spirits would not “trick” or curse the
12. By the first century A.D., the Romans had conquered much of the Celtic territory and they adopted a great deal of these traditions as their own. Since the Catholic church sprang up in the heart of Rome and became the official religion of the Roman Empire, many pagan rituals were unfortunately incorporated by the church as a way of making Catholicism more appealing to the heathen (remember, this was the beginning of the “the Dark Ages”).
13. How did Halloween get its name and come to be? It is generally agreed by historians that Halloween came to take the place of the October 31st Celtic Festival of the dead” called Samhain that was celebrated by the ancient Druids. In the 6th century, “Gregory the Great (A.D. 540-604) advised the Archbishop of Canterbury to retain the hitherto Druid sacrifices and celebrate them in honor of the Christian saints” (Occult ABC, Kurt Koch, p. 87). During the 7th century, in an attempt to replace the Celtic festival with a similar, but “holier” holiday, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 as a time to honor “saints and martyrs” and called it “All Saints’ Day”. This celebration was also known as All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from the Middle English word “Alholowmesse”, which means All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Look at the name “All Hallows’ Evening.” If we drop the word “all,” the “s” on Hallows’, and the “v” and “ing” on evening, the result spells Halloween. Long before the church gave this name to the evening before All Saints’ Day (a celebration in remembrance of saints and martyred saints), it had been celebrated in various ways in many places around the world.
The book Every Day’s a Holiday accurately observes that Halloween “probably combines more folk customs the world around than will ever be sorted out, catalogued and traced to their sources.” Some sources also credit Pope Gregory IV in 835 AD for designating November 1st as All Saints day, or All Hallows’ Day (the term hallow refers to saints). May 13th was the original day that All Saints day was observed but The leadership of the Catholic Church decided to move it to Nov 1st. In the year 1000, the Catholic church set up November 2 to be All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated much like Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, while the people dressed up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. The three celebrations (the eve of All Saints’, All Saints’, and All Souls’) were combined and called Hallowmas.
14. Since the Catholics believed that their departed loved ones were in a state of limbo known as purgatory, this festival of the dead was significant. They would go from house to house begging for “soul cakes”. The more cakes they received, the more prayers they would offer for the dead relatives of those who gave the cakes. These practices were encouraged by the church, but were based on superstition rather than the truth of the Bible. Not all Catholics participated in these pagan events but just like many in our culture today, many of them in those days also lacked the knowledge of the root origins of these types practices.
15. Who are the Celtics and Druids? The Druids were the educated or priestly class of the Celtic religion. The Celts themselves were the first Aryan people who came from Asia to settle in Europe. In fact, we can see certain similarities between Druidism and the religion of India: Celtic religion, presided over by the Druids (the priestly order) presents beliefs in various nature deities and certain ceremonies and practices that are similar to those in Indian religion. The insular Celts and the people of India also shared certain similarities of language and culture, thus indicating a common heritage. For example, the Indian pagan gods Siva Pasupati (“lord of the animals”) and Savitr (“god of the sun”) are similar to the Celtic gods Cernunnos, a horned god who appears in the yoga position, and the god Lug, or Lugus (perhaps originally a sun god). “As in Hinduism, the Druids also believed in reincarnation, specifically in the transmigration of the soul, which teaches that people may be reborn as animals.”
16. The Celtic peoples lived in northern France, throughout the United Kingdom, and in Ireland. They engaged in occult arts, worshiped nature, and gave nature supernatural, animistic qualities. Certain trees or plants, such as oak trees and mistletoe, were given great spiritual significance. (According to Celtic authority Lewis Spence, the original meaning of the term Druid implies a priest of the oak cult.) Interestingly, it has been claimed that 90 percent of the world’s sometimes mysterious “crop circles” lie within the geographical proximity of the ancient and possibly Druidic ruins of Stonehenge. At least some of these phenomena may be considered supernatural.
17. The Celts worshiped the sun god Belenus, especially on Beltane, May 1, and they worshiped another god, apparently the lord of death, or the lord of the dead, on Samhain (pronounced “SOW-wen” by Wiccans), October 31. Beltane (“Fire of Bel”) was the time of the summer festival, while Samhain was the time of the winter festival. Human sacrifice was offered during both occasions. According to Julius Caesar in his Commentaries and other sources, the Celts believed they were descended from the god Dis, a tradition handed down from the Druids. Dis was the Roman name for the god of the dead. Of the 400 names of Celtic gods known, Belenus is mentioned most often. Samhain as the specific name of the lord of death is uncertain, but it is possible that the lord of death was the chief Druid deity. We’ll follow the common practice of other authors on this issue and refer to this deity by the name Samhain.
18. How did the October 31st Druidic festivals originate? The Celts and their Druid priests began their New Year on November 1, which marked the beginning of winter. They apparently believed that on October 31, the night before their New Year and the last day of the old year, Samhain gathered the souls of the evil dead who had been condemned to enter the bodies of animals. He then decided what animal form they would take for the next year. (The souls of the good dead were reincarnated as humans.) The Druids also believed that the punishment of the evil dead could be lightened by sacrifices, prayers, and gifts to Samhain.
Druid worshipers attempted to satisfy and please this deity because of his power over the souls of the dead, whether these souls were good or evil. For those who had died during the preceding 12 months, Samhain allowed their spirits to return to earth to their former places of habitation for a few hours to associate once again with their families. As a result of this belief, the Celts taught that on their New Year’s Eve (our Halloween) ghosts, evil spirits, and witches roamed the earth. In order to honor the sun god (Belenus) and to frighten away evil spirits who allegedly feared fire, large bonfires were lit on hilltops. In Lewis Spence’s The History and Origins of Druidism we read,
“The outstanding feature of Samhain was the burning of a great fire.…Samhain was also a festival of the dead, whose spirits at this season were thought of as scouring the countryside, causing dread to the folk at large. To expel them from the fields and the precincts of villages, lighted brands from the bonfire were carried around the district…Divinations for the fate of the individual throughout the new year were engaged in. “For several days before New Year’s Eve (October 31), young boys would travel the neighborhood begging for material to build these massive bonfires. The fires were believed to not only banish evil spirits but rejuvenate the sun. Until fairly recent times, the hilltop Halloween fires of the Scots were called Samhnagan, indicating the lingering influence of the ancient Celtic festival.
19. On October 31st evil or frustrated ghosts were also believed to play tricks on humans and cause supernatural manifestations, just like poltergeists today. As part of the celebration, people dressed in grotesque masks and danced around the great bonfires, often pretending they were being pursued by evil spirits. In addition, food was put out to make the ghosts or souls of the good dead Samhain had released feel welcomed and at home. Because Samhain marked the beginning of a new year, an interest in divination (the magic art of interpreting the unknown by interpreting random patterns or symbols) and fortune-telling became an important part of this holiday. The Druids also believed that the particular shape of various fruits and vegetables could help predict, or divine, the future. Victims of human sacrifice were used for the same purpose. When the Romans conquered Britain, some of their customs were added to the traditions of the Druids, while others, such as human sacrifice, were banned.
20. The Samhain celebration was not unique to the Druids. Many festivals worldwide celebrate a time when the dead return to mingle with the living. The Hindus call it a night of Holi. The Iroquois Native Americans celebrate a feast of the dead every 12 years, when all those who have died during the preceding 12 years are honored with prayers. A national holiday in Mexico, the Day of the Dead, begins on November 2 and lasts several days. In this gruesome festival, death becomes a kind of neighborly figure, appearing on candy, jewelry, toys, bread, cakes, and so on. This is the time when the souls of the dead return and when the living are to honor them. For example, doors are decorated with flowers to welcome the angelitos, the souls of dead children.
21. Halloween has been commercialized and the enormous profits are the reason why every year people are urged buy lots of candy from retailers. Retailers rejoice as they warm up their cash registers to receive an average of $79.82 per household in decorations, costumes, candy, and greeting cards. Halloween will bring in approximately $8 billion this year. Surprisingly, Halloween is 2nd highest grossing event of the year, just behind Christmas. The Love of Money is the root of all Evil and when it comes to why retailers promote the observance of Halloween, the answer is simple…Halloween brings in big profits.
The Spirit of Halloween is on based on Fear. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (1 Timothy 1:7). Fear is the opposite of the fruits of the Spirit which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc. If you want to know how God feels about Halloween, acknowledge the Bible. The Bible say “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God 1 John 4:1”. Since the Spirit of Halloween is Fear based we know that it is not of God. No one can deny that Halloween is mainly focused on fear, darkness, monsters, the occult and violence. Are these the kinds of things that we should be exposing our children or ourselves to? Paul said that Christians should “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”(Ephesians 5:11) He also wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:22 that we are to “Keep away from every kind of evil.” (New Living Translation)
The observance of Halloween is a carefully orchestrated trick of Satan. It is a well baited trap to get people involved in things that are not Godly and that promote Fear and the Demonic. We all know that kids love candy and dressing up in their favorite costumes but the devil knows this too. If you look at the origins of this type of event, it is easy to see that it is not of God. When young people see their friends dressing up to go trick or treating to get candy, in their mind they can’t understand why they should not join them. We must take the time and teach our children the reasons why Halloween is not for God’s children. Take them out and show them a good time after or before Halloween and also make sure you teach your family and friends what the Word of God says and why we as God fearing people should not participate in events that promote things contrary to God’s principles.
Many of you know and believe that we are living in the Last of the Last Days before Christ’s Return. It is time to do away with the superstitions and traditions of the past that are rooted in fear and paganism, and we must now lay aside every weight that does so easily set us back. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
It is good to have fun and enjoy ourselves but we must do it within the framework of God’s purpose and plan for our lives and not just blindly follow the crowd without first asking God for His direction. “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:6
God loves you and so do we!
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Good Articles for those wanting more information on the Origins of Halloween.