Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The History of Halloween

The winds of fall is in full swing, the leaves on the trees begin to turn colors, and fall to the ground in some parts of the country. The stores are riddled with costumes such as witches, devils, angels, famous people, workers, and so on. Modest and immodest costumes are being sold to the public. In some cases, extra sections are dedicated with for candy which is given out every year for trick or treat. More horror films, and scary plots in tv-shows become common as the end of October approaches. Parents are working on getting their kids ready for trick or treat by shopping for customs or making one of their own. Many houses are displaying spooky looking objects such as; skulls, zombies, witches, ghosts, and other creatures considered to be from the dark side. Haunted houses are set-up in various parts of a city or town, often times it's used as family entertainment. It's that time of the year again, Halloween where did it come from and how did it evolve in such a popular holiday as see today? Should Christians celebrate Halloween? In answers we must look at it in three parts...Firstly, Halloween originally was integrated with it's pagan practices into the religious mainstream by the Roman Catholic Institution. The word itself, "Halloween," comes from a contracted corruption of All Hallows Eve. November 1, "All Hollows Day" (or "All Saints Day"), which is a Catholic day of observance in honor of it's dead saints.
Secondly, unlike it's integration the origin of Halloween resides in the 5th century BC, in Celtic Ireland, summer officially ended on October 31. The holiday was called Samhain (sow-en), the Celtic New year. One story says that, on that day, 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.

Naturally, the still-living did not want to be possessed. So on the night of October 31, villagers would extinguish the fires in their homes, to make them cold and undesirable. They would then dress up in all manner of ghoulish costumes and noisily paraded around the neighborhood, being as destructive as possible in order to frighten away spirits looking for bodies to possess.

Probably a better explanation of why the Celts extinguished their fires was not to discourage spirit possession, but so that all the Celtic tribes could relight their fires from a common source, the Druidic fire that was kept burning in the Middle of Ireland, at Usinach. Some accounts tell of how the Celts would burn someone at the stake who was thought to have already been possessed, as sort of a lesson to the spirits. Other accounts of Celtic history debunk these stories as myth.

The Romans adopted the Celtic practices as their own and practiced them for many years. But in the first century AD, Samhain was assimilated into celebrations of some of the other Roman traditions that took place in October, such as their day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple, which might explain the origin of our modern tradition of bobbing for apples on Halloween. 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. The custom of Halloween was finally 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 custom of trick-or-treating is thought to have originated not with the Irish Celts, but with a ninth-century European custom called souling. On November 2, All Souls Day or sometimes called; Day of the Dead, for this Romanist holiday, early Roman Catholics would walk from village to village begging for "soul cakes," made out of square pieces of bread with currants. The more soul cakes the beggars would receive, the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the dead relatives of the donors. At the time, it was believed that the dead remained in limbo or purgatory for a time after death, and that prayer, even by strangers, could expedite a soul's passage to heaven. This over all concept has pagan roots that eventually grew into Catholicism as a doctrine, which it's not biblical at all. Then there is the Jack-o-lantern custom with origins coming from Irish folklore. As the tale is told, a man named Jack, who was notorious as a drunkard and trickster, tricked Satan into climbing a 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. Instead, the devil gave him a single ember to light his way through the frigid darkness. The ember was placed inside a hollowed-out turnip to keep it glowing longer. 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. Another definition describing the Jack-o-lantern is a symbol of a dammed soul.

Thirdly, although some cults may have adopted Halloween as their favorite "holiday," such as Wiccans, who look forward to the day with a passion just like the rest of the religions in the occult. This day originally grew out of the rituals of Celts celebrating a new year, and out of Medieval prayer rituals of Europeans which was later integrated by the Roman Catholic Institution. And today, even many churches have Halloween parties or pumpkin carving events for the kids. After all, the day itself is only as evil as one cares to make it. No true Christian should adapt this pagan holiday into their own celebration for the purpose of giving out candy or joining in with the world in celebrating darkness. Nor should Christians take part in pumpkin carving which is a common Halloween practice even though they reject the holiday as being pagan. It's highly unlikely that Christians would take part in pumpkin carving if it wasn't for the popularity of Halloween's customs. Darkness cannot be celebrated nor practiced (mixed in) with the light in any way. Scriptures are clear on the matter when it comes to pagan practices not only are we not to believe in these practices but cease from doing them as well as their understanding of the Lord progresses. God's people ought to be separated from the world in behavior and practice which includes Halloween and it's customs as the Scriptures below clearly point out...
Jeremiah 10:2; "Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them."
Deuteronomy 12:31; "Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods."
Deuteronomy 12:32; "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it."
(taken from "The Other Side")

1 comment:

Dave said...

Great Post!!!!!