Please note that this information is here for your enjoyment only and does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of this particular writer. dsb

The History of Halloween

The word Halloween has its roots in the Catholic Church. It comes from a Catholic day of observance in honor of saints, November 1, called All Hollows Day or All Saints Day.

In 5th century BC, in Ireland, summer officially ended on October 31 and this holiday was called Samhain or the Celtic New Year, according to their Druid religion. The celebration of good harvests and the New Year would start on October 31 and the celebration would last all night. It was believed that the spirits of all who died in the prior year, would rise up and roam the earth on this night.

This was believed to be an evil night when spirits roamed the streets and villages. Lord Samhain, the lord of Darkness, would arrive in search of the spirits to take them to the underworld. The Celts would bring wood and start their Samhain bonfire or, fire festival, on the hilltop. Often, they would throw the bones of slaughtered cattle into the flames. The word "bonfire" is said to be derived from such "bone fires." Bonfires and sacrifices guaranteed that the sun would burn brightly after a long, dreary winter.

The disembodied spirits of all those who had died throughout the preceding year would come back in search of living bodies to possess for the next year. It was believed to be their only hope for the afterlife. The Celts believed all laws of space and time were suspended during this time, allowing the spirit world to intermingle with the living.

"Virtually every religious holiday now observed throughout Christendom originated in paganism, many hundreds of years before Christ, but ancient history proves it beyond a doubt. The birthday of the sun's child, Tammuz, became the alleged birthday of the Christ child. The season of mourning for Tammuz became Lent, and the resurrection legend of Tammuz conveniently lived on as the resurrection story of Christ. The cakes to the queen of heaven became hot cross buns, and the disgraceful fertility rites of Ishtar evolved into the celebration of Easter. Today we are left with All Soul's Day; the evening before is called Eve of All Hallows, or more commonly known as Halloween. Halloween is clearly a relic of pagan times, and it has never reflected true Christian virtues. Clearly, the rites and symbols of this holiday reveal that it is still a day that glorifies Satan. Since its beginning, the festival of Halloween has played upon people's fears. The Celtic people believed that on the night of October 31, demons, witches, and the spirits of all those who had died within the past year roamed about freely.Satan delights in filling people's minds with thoughts of fear, death, and destruction. It is a tactic he has used for centuries to keep mankind under his control".... quoted from Amazing Facts.


Halloween costumes originated from the Celts when they believed that by dressing up in elaborate animal skins and heads to disguise themselves as spirits and demons, the real ones couldn't distinguish them as being human. Their ceremonies consisted of dancing, telling stories, and reading fortunes.

Trick or Treat

While looking up the history of Trick or Treating, I found several versions of its origins.

One version allows that the tradition is believed to have begun in Ireland in preparation for All Hallow's Eve. The Irish townsfolk would visit neighbors and ask for contributions of food for a feast in the town.

Another similar version says that the poor would call upon the rich and request money, gifts, and food. The food was gathered for a huge feast and celebration.

The third version says that the custom did not originate with the Irish Celts, but with a 9th century European custom called "Souling". It says the early Christians would walk from village to village begginf for "soul cakes" made from bread and currants. The more cakes the beggar received, the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the dead relatives of the donors. It was believed that the dead remained in limbo for a time after death, and that prayer, even by strangers, could expedite a soul's passage to heaven.

Only two of the articles I read actually said anything about the "trick" part of "trick or treat". One said that the custom of Halloween was brought to America in the 1840's by Irish immigrants fleeing their country's potato famine. At that time, the favorite pranks in New England included tipping over outhouses and unhinging fence gates.

The other, from Amazing Facts, said several days before their festival began, the Druid priests would go from house to house demanding food or other items they would use in their worship of Samhain, the lord of death. If a villager refused to give them what they wanted, the priest would put a demonic curse on the home. It was no idle threat, either. Someone from that house usually died within the year. It is from this abominable practice that our present-day "trick-or-treat" custom evolved. While it is true that trick-or-treat is no longer primarily about curses, it is about gluttony. Even this element of Halloween, which in comparison might seem harmless, does nothing to glorify God.


From what I read it is widely accepted that this tradition originates with the Irish Celts in the 18th century. A miserable man named Jack, who was notorious as a drunkard and trickster, tricked the devil into climbing an apple tree. Jack then carved an image of a cross in the tree's trunk, trapping the devil up the tree.

Jack made a deal with the devil that, if he would never tempt him again, he would promise to let him down the tree. According to the folk tale, after Jack died, he was denied entrance to Heaven because of his evil ways, but he was also denied access to Hell because he had tricked the devil, he was destined to roam the earth endlessly.

The devil took pity on him and gave him a piece of coal to light his path. Jack put it inside a hollowed-out turnip that he had been eating.

The Irish used turnips as their "Jack's lanterns" originally. But when the immigrants came to America, they found that pumpkins were far more plentiful than turnips. So the Jack-O-Lantern in America was a hollowed-out pumpkin, lit with an ember.

Just a few more tidbits

Apples were considered have long been associated with female deities, and with immortality, resurrection, and knowledge. One reason is that if an apple is cut through its equator, it will reveal a five-pointed star outlined at the center of each hemisphere. This was a pentagram -- a Goddess symbol among the Roma (Gypsies), Celts, Egyptians, etc.

There are many Halloween folk traditions associated with apples for instance, 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;

Peeling an apple in front of a candle-lit mirror was believed to produce the image of one's future spouse; and Attempting to produce a long unbroken apple peel was said to estimate the number of years you had to live. The longer the peel, the longer your life expectancy.

The town of Hancock, MD has refused for more than 20 years to declare a specific date for Halloween. Their rationale is that if they set a particular date and a child gets hurt during the trick-or-treating, then the town might be liable for damages.

A growing Halloween tradition among Evangelical Christians is to provide a type of horror tableau which promotes public awareness of conservative Christian concerns. In Arvida, CO, the Abundant Life Christian Center built a haunted house for Halloween 1997. It includes simulations of: 1) a bloody abortion in progress, 2) a ritual human sacrifice by a Satanic cult, 3) a teen committing suicide, 4)the funeral of a homosexual AIDS victim, and 5) a live action scene of a date rape.

The thrust of the practices also changed over time to become more ritualized. As belief in spirit possession waned, the practice of dressing up like hobgoblins, ghosts, and witches took on a more ceremonial role. So, although some cults may have adopted Halloween as their favorite "holiday," the day itself did not grow out of evil practices. It grew out of the rituals of Celts celebrating a new year, and out of Medieval prayer rituals of Europeans. And today, even many churches have Halloween parties or pumpkin carving events for the kids.

Halloween is second only to Christmas in spending. Consumers will normally spend over $2.5 billion during Halloween.

A final word from Amazing Facts: No matter how fun or exciting it may seem, Halloween is no celebration for a Christian. If we truly seek to glorify God, then how can we devote one day of the year to worshipping Satan? We can't.

Have a Safe and Happy Halloween!

The above information was collected from:
Halloween website
Religious Tolerance
Holiday Insights
Amazing Facts and another part of Amazing Facts

The animations, icons and background are from:
Cool Holiday Graphics

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