Is Halloween Pagan?

20111001-01

Happy Halloween ~ Tony Stewart Pumpkin

Well, Ask A Pagan!

There are three holidays occurring at the same time on October 31st. Two are religious and one has nothing at all to do with religion or spirituality.

At sunset on October 31st, Pagans celebrate a holiday known as Samhain (Summer’s End). The holiday lasts through the night until sunset on November 1st. Early Pagans followed a lunar calendar, much like the people of Judaism. Worship and observances begin at sunset even today.

That tradition of sunset celebrations is the influence of the Christian celebration of All Hallow’s Eve. The evening prior to the Catholic holiday of All Saints Day. The other religious holiday at this time. In the effort to convert Celtic Pagans to Christianity, All Saints day didn’t quite make it. Pagans who converted to Christianity, still went the even celebrations on the evening before November 1st.

In order to attract more Pagans to church, the Catholic Church, established All Hallow’s Eve to take place at sunset, the evening prior to the reverent holiday that honors the Saints. All Hallow’s Eve is the real precursor to modern Halloween.

It takes several centuries for All Hallow’s Eve to evolve into a type of Halloween we know today. But even though the celebration slowly travels through Europe, it’s still not what we see today. Each culture developed its own traditions, implements some of its own legend and lore into those traditions and the holiday spreads into something it wasn’t intended to be, even in those early centuries.

Those October 31st celebrations came to America as early as the 1800s. As Europeans migrate to the new land, they bring their traditions, legends and lore. Those begin to evolve again as they interact with each other. Mixing stories from that Germanic region with that French region and even more traditions from England, Ireland and so on.

As Halloween evolves in America, it goes through several variations of practice. Some good, some not good at all, and by the 1940’s and 50’s it finally forms into the last day of October fall celebration it is today. There is no symbolical connection to Church, reverence, holy soul acknowledgement at all. It’s nothing more than a time of dressing up in costume and providing a night of fun.

To Answer The Question
No, my friend, Halloween has nothing to do with a pagan holiday or celebration. There are no remnants of the original Pagan festivals left within today’s modern celebration. Those spooky or evil practices weren’t created by Pagans. They were established by early Christians who chose to vilify Pagan symbols, such as Witches communing with ghosts, ghouls and goblins.  Halloween is a secular (no religious observance) celebration of childhood and young at heart, pretense.

Jack O’Lanterns:
Even the most iconic symbol of Halloween, the Jack O’Lantern, is connected to a Christian origin, not a Pagan one. The  Jack-o-lanterns are said to originate from a Christianized Irish myth about a man nicknamed “Stingy Jack.”

Tricks & Treats
Treats also originated from an old custom of leaving cookies and other foods out for those relatives to enjoy as they shared this one night of feasting. The ‘trick’ portion of “Trick or Treat” was an invention of the Christians. The tricks were supposedly caused by the dead who didn’t receive a treat of food left for them when they arrived at your door.

Costumes
The Christians turned this into wearing costumes and masks to hide their presence from the evil spirits that walked the night during this evening when the veil between worlds is at its thinnest. Their costumes would be ghoulish so they would “fit in” among the demons.

Today Halloween is nothing more than a secular event for children and adults who are young at heart, to dress up and play for an evening of laughter and fright.  It’s not Pagan and it’s not Christian. It’s secular.

You can learn much more from Fantasy & Folklore of Hallows Eve at the Library Of Congress

© 1997-2014 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D., Springwolf's Kosmos. All Rights Reserved.
© 1997-2014 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D., Springwolf’s Creations. All Rights Reserved.

 

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