Where Did Halloween Come From? What is Halloween really all about?
You will agree with me that Halloween is really one of the strangest days of the year, is it not? Perhaps you wonder how the celebration of such a day ever got started. In this pamphlet I would like to answer this question for you!
Where and when did Halloween customs originate?
The many customs we have today in relation to Halloween have their origins in the religious practices of the Romans and the Druids, therefore dating back many centuries. The Romans worshiped various gods and on October 31, a special feast was held in honor of Pomona, goddess of the fruit trees. Later, the Druids, an ancient order of Celtic priests in Britain, made this feast an even more extensive celebration by also honoring Samhain, lord of the dead. This was normally done on November 1 and it was therefore decided to conveniently honor both Pomona and Samhain on October 31 and November 1.
These Druids believed that on the night before November 1 (October 31) Samhain called together wicked souls or spirits which had been condemned to live in the bodies of animals during the year which had just transpired. Since they were afraid of these spirits, they chose October 31 as a day to sacrifice to their gods, hoping they would protect them. They really believed that on this day they were surrounded by strange spirits, ghosts, witches, fairies, and elves, who came out to hurt them. In addition to this, they also believed that cats were holy animals, as they considered them to represent people who lived formerly, and as punishment for evil deeds were reincarnated as a cat. All this explains why witches, ghosts, and cats are a part of Halloween today.
The custom of trick-or-treating and the use of “jack-o’-lanterns” comes from Ireland. Hundreds of years ago, Irish farmers went from house to house, begging for food, in the name of their ancient gods, to be used at the village Halloween celebration. They would promise good luck to those who gave them good, and made threats to those who refused to give. They simply told the people, “You treat me, or else I will trick you!”
The apparently harmless lightened pumpkin face or “jack-o’-lantern” actually is an old Irish symbol of damned soul. A man named Jack was supposed to be unable to enter heaven due to his miserliness, and unable to enter hell because he had played practice jokes on the devil. As a result, he was condemned to wander over the earth with his lantern until judgment day (i.e., the end of the world). The Irish were so afraid that they would receive an identical plight, that they began to hollow out pumpkins and place lighted candles inside to scare away evil spirits from their home.
When did the modern Halloween celebration begin?
During the Middle Ages (about 600 years ago), the Roman Catholic Church at that time, decided to make the change-over from pagan religion to Christianity a bit easier, and therefore allowed the new converts to maintain some of their pagan feasts. It was agreed, however, that from now on they would be celebrated as “Christian” feats. So instead of praying to their heathen gods, they would now pray to, and remember the deaths of saints. For this reason the church decided to call November 1 the “Day of All Saints,” and the mass to be celebrated on that day “Alhallowmass.” In consequence of this, the evening prior to this day was named, “All Hallowed Evening” which subsequently was abbreviated as “Halloween.” In spite of this effort to make October 31 a “holy evening,” all the old customs continued to be practiced, and made this evening anything BUT a holy evening!
You would have to agree with me that also today Halloween is most definitely not a holy evening!! This annual event is far from the harmless, innocent tradition it is promoted to be. Many dread this “holy” evening as they think what could happen to them, their property, and/or their children! Consistent with its historical roots, this evening is characterized by fear, and frequently arouses dormant fears in many. The fear generated by this event is symbolic of the fear which plagues so many in our moden, morally bankrupt world. It is a gripping fear for an unknown and very threatening future, a fear caused by a gnawing inner emptiness.
An alternative for October 31.
For many in this land, this day stands for the very opposite of fear!! On this day in 1517, a German monk and professor of theology, Dr. Martin Luther, courageously published the simple, straightforward truth of the Bible. God’s Word, which he has rediscovered after a long and intense spiritual struggle. God used the truth of his own Word to give Luther the inner peace he had so desperately longed for. The Bible pointed him the way to God Himself, and when he found God through Jesus Christ, he found this peace which passes all understanding! He himself stated that it was as if he entered Paradise itself.
As a result of his courageous act on October 31, 1517, the Bible came into the hands of the common people again, and many, who as he, were deeply troubled by sin and it’s consequences, found peace with God as well!
It was God himself, Who used Martin Luther to bring His message of deliverance into the hands and hearts of sinners, in order to bring them back to Himself, and give then TRUE peace!! It is therefore with deep gratitude to God that we wish commemorate October 31, as it reminds us of God’s gracious and mighty deeds nearly five centuries ago.
It is the Word of God, and its precious truth, rediscover by Martin Luther, which still gives true peace to many today. In the Bible ALONE will you find the ONLY answer to the deep yearning of your heart. ONLY when God becomes your God through Jesus Christ, you will find rest at last and you will answer to the true purpose of human existence, namely, to honor, serve, and enjoy our Creator!!
Is the God of heaven and earth YOUR God? If not, seek Him TODAY, while He still may be found!!
God, manifested in Jesus Christ, invited you Himself in His Word. Turn to the gospel of Matthew and read chapter 11:28,
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden and i will give you rest!”
Those who insist on seeking inner peace without being reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, will have to endure eternal misery without God. God does not desire the eternal misery of man and therefore He also extends this invitation in Ezekiel 33:11,
“As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the deaths of the wicked (i.e. Sinner) but that the wicked turn from his way and live! Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways: for why will ye die?”