Halloween and ChristianityMichael WilliamsReligion10/28/96It is often said that Halloween is not the “harmless” holiday it isthought to be, instead it is believed to be a pagan ritual which dates back tothe ancient Celtic Druids. According to the article “Should Our Kids CelebrateHalloween?” in Catholic Digest Halloween’s origin is very much Christian andAmerican.Although the ancient Celts celebrated a minor festival on the 31st ofOctober, it fell on that day because the Feast of All Saints or “All Hallows”falls on November 1st.
During the 840s Pope Gregory IV gad All Saints Day to becelebrated everywhere. The day before the feast became known as “All HallowsEven” or “Hallowe’en”. At the time, that day did not have any real significance.In the year of 998, the abbot of the monastery of Cluny in southern France, St.Odilo added a celebration on November 2nd called All Souls Day. The newcelebration was a feast whose purpose was to recognize those in heaven and inpurgatory.The tradition of dressing up in costumes on Halloween is derived fromthe Feast of All Souls Day in France.
During the 14th and 15th centuries whenEurope was hit by outbreaks of the bubonic plague, about half of its populationwas wiped out. Since life spans were greatly shortened because of the plague,Catholics began to focus on the after life. The number of Masses help largelyincreased and people of all social classes gathered to dress in differentgarments and lead lost spirits to the tomb in a daisy chain which became knownas the “Dance of Death”.Dressing up did not become part of Halloween until the creation of theBritish colonies in North America. During that period of time, Catholics had nolegal rights in England. At times English Catholics attempted to resist. Onesuch occasion was a plot to destroy King James I and his Parliament withgunpowder. The plan was ill-conceived and easily foiled when the guard of thepowder, Guy Fawkes, was found and hung on November 5, 1605.
The date becamewidely celebrated in England. Bands of revelers began to wear masks on that dateand visited local Catholics during the night demanding beer and cakes for theircelebration. This is the root of what has become known as “trick or treat!”.As French and Irish Catholics immigrated into the colonies, they began to inter-marry. The combination of their traditions mixed with people of othernationalities is what led to the current way we celebrate Halloween.In conclusion, Halloween is not the occult which most people believe, itis the product of several cultures including Christianity.