Written by Pamela K. Orgeron, M.A., Ed.S., BCCC, ACLC, Author
Much controversy seems to exist in literature over whether the roots of Halloween stem from the pagan holiday of Samhain or the Christian All Saints Day. To get a clearer picture of the debate, let’s define both holidays.
First, what is Samhain? According to one definition found at https://www.thefreedictionary.com/Samhain, Samhain is “An ancient Celtic feast celebrating the end of harvest and the beginning of winter, marked by bonfires and sacrifices and by the propitiation of gods who were believed to become visible and play tricks on their worshipers.”
What I find alarming about Samhain is what Stewart (2017, Halloween fact 2) reported:
Wiccans, who follow ancient Celtic rituals, still call Halloween by the ancient name Samhain (pronounced SOW-en) and consider it to be the most sacred night of the year. Quoting a professed witch, “Christians ‘don’t realize it, but they’re celebrating our holiday with us. . . . We like it,’” stated the newspaper Monday, October 29, 1990, Edition of USA TODAY.
What Stewart (2017) reports is enough to make me believe that Christians should not acknowledge Halloween in any form or fashion. However, that is not the end of the story.
Defining All Saints Day, according to the American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition (2011), All Saints Day is “November 1, the day on which a Christian feast honoring all the saints is observed. Also called Allhallows.” According to Schlosser (What is the origin of Halloween section),
On Samhain, the medieval Catholic church celebrated “All Hallows Eve” – the night before All Saints Day – by lighting bonfires to symbolize the plight of souls lost in purgatory, and “souling”, which consisted of going door-to-door offering prayers for the dead in exchange for cakes and other treats. Guising – the custom of going forth dressed in costume – also became associated with All Hallows Eve festivities. Roots of many modern Halloween customs can be seen in both the Samhain and the All Hallows Eve celebrations.
None of the above customs of Samhain or All Hallows Eve are biblical or glorify God. Read the research on the links below for yourself. Even before reading the below articles, the Holy Spirit had convicted me that Halloween is NOT something I should be acknowledging or celebrating. How about you? What do you think?
All Saints’ Day. (n.d.) American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. (2011). Retrieved October 28, 2019, from https://www.thefreedictionary.com/All+Saints%27+Day
Do you know what witches think of Christians celebrating Halloween? https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=AwrJ7FVOErddAogAf25XNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEyOGFjbzJnBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwM5BHZ0aWQDQjY4MzNfMQRzZWMDc3I-?qid=20080828004211AAAPHhg
Halloween articles. From http://www.celebratingholidays.com/?page_id=1271
Jehovah’s Witnesses (2013). The truth about Halloween. https://www.jw.org/en/library/magazines/g201309/truth-about-halloween/
Samhain. (n.d.) American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. (2011). Retrieved October 28, 2019, from https://www.thefreedictionary.com/Samhain
Schlosser, S. E., What is Halloween? From https://americanfolklore.net/folklore/2013/09/what_is_halloween.html
Stewart, C. (2017). 6 Halloween Facts You Didn’t Know. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 28, 2019, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/humor/2017/10/6-halloween-fact-you-didnt-know/
Virkler, D. M. Halloween: Harmless fun or demonic playground? http://wordandtheworld.homestead.com/Halloween.html
Warren, M., Halloween folklore and superstitions. From https://folklorethursday.com/folklife/halloween-folklore-superstitions/