The Truth About Halloween
I know that last time that I posted I placed something on my blog that could rightly be called controversial. I am not trying to keep this up as a pattern but I feel that the approaching “celebration” of Halloween is really a very important thing to address. I am a Christian and I do not feel at all comfortable participating in this “celebration of darkness”. Many other Christians, I would say unwittingly, participate in this day without really understanding what it is really about. Please read through to the end and perhaps rethink your own “participation”.
Halloween originally was not “Halloween”. It was called “The Vigil of Samhain”. On that day Druid priests would go from door to door in their village collecting offerings – fruit, live animals such as horses, cows, chickens, geese, and even children. These offerings were then placed in large wicker baskets and strategically placed in areas with dry brush. At midnight they would set fire to these baskets burning alive the victims. They would then search the remains for signs and portents of the future.
I said above that this was a celebration of darkness. Well for a beginning, the villagers were required to put out all of their lights – no fires, not even candles. The only fires permitted were those of the Druids. If the villagers wanted to relight their fires, they had to first go to the Druids and pay them a tax. They would then receive an ember to relight their fire. You could not go long without a fire at that time of year – the cold season in Europe.
The Celtic New Year was on November 1 – after the harvest and going into a cold and dark winter. It was believed that on October 31st the worlds of the living and the dead were blurred. It was the night of the thin veil. The spirits of the dead returned causing trouble and destroying crops. The Druids looked to the evil spirits to predict the future. Villagers would place a candle in their window in order to help their ancestors find their way home. They would also set an extra plate at their table so that the dead could join in the dinner.
A Short History:
The Vigil of Samhain was celebrated for around 400 years until Christianity spread and sought an “in between” way to still have The Vigil of Samhain but change it into a “Christian celebration”. Pope Boniface IV gave November 1 the name “All Saints Day” to honor the saints who have died – a compromise. And the night before – All Hallows Eve.
The Pilgrims knew and understood the darkness of this celebration and banned it from the colonies. Irish immigrants during the potato famine arrived bringing the tradition of Sanhaim. At first it centered upon community get togethers slowly growing into a more secular and general celebration. In the 50’s it became so large that it was moved to the classroom and consequently into the home.
Every year 6.9 billion is spent on Halloween alone. In the amount of money spent, halloween is only second to Christmas
Apple bobbing is really a form of divination. Young unmarried women would gather around a tub filled with apples – the apple is a symbol of the Roman goddess Pomona. The first to bite into an apple was the winner. The apple was then cored leaving only the outside peel which was then thrown behind the shoulder. They would then see if the peel formed a letter – the first letter of the name of the man they would marry. This is also where we get the traditional throwing of the wedding bouquet.
The celts believed that on the eve of the new year, the veil between the dead, the living dead, and the living became very thin. This is why there are so many objects centered around decomposed and mutilated bodies. The decomposed bodies would arise from the graveyard and come into the village. This is why during Halloween there is such an emphasis on graveyards and decomposed bodies.
The wicked souls of the dead were condemned to inhabit the body of an animal for a year. On The Vigil of Samhain, the lord of death and demons called those wicked souls together and sent them to attack the villagers in the form of those animals. The villagers would attempt to escape by masquerading as animals – besmearing their faces with ash and wearing animal skins – hoping to blend in unknown amongst them – the origin of the halloween costume.
Trick or Treat
Villagers would try to appease spirits with plates of their finest food. They believed that if thy did not do so these ghostly wanderers would kill their flocks or destroy their property. The following is a quote of Irene Parker, a former witch and an authority on Halloween.
“Druids would go throughout the neighborhood and countryside on the eve of October 31st to collect offerings for Satan. They would carry lanterns, bags for money, canes with very sharp points on their end known as leprechaun staffs, good luck horns, or fairy’s wands, and at each house they would demand a specified amount. If it was not obtained at the chosen home than a hexagram was painted on their door with blood to show the appointed evil spirits to cause all kind of evil to fall on that home.”
Jack O’ Lanterns
Of all commercially grown pumpkins, 80 – 90 percent go to Halloween. The jack o’ lantern is really an ancient symbol from Druid faith representing a damned soul. Originally turnips or beets were carved out as lanterns to represent the souls of the dead or goblins freed from death. When the Irish immigrants arrived in America during the potato famine they brought this tradition with them. They were not able to find the turnips or beets that they normally used but instead found a multitude of pumpkins.
Another history: The celtic god Bran ordered that his head was to be cut off and buried facing France to protect the country from invaders. His grieving troops took the head to their stronghold for a period of seven years where it talked and offered warnings and divinations. After 87 years it was taken to another town where it was set facing France so it could warn of invasions. Pagans carved out a gourd and placed a candle in it as a symbol of Brans head.
Jack o’ lanterns are often used for protection – to keep out unwelcome demons and spirits; some older rituals called for a circle of heads.
The Grim Reaper
The grim reaper is really a Celtic god – the Druid lord of darkness and demons – Samhain. It is in his honor that Halloween has been held. The Druid religion with its bloody human sacrifices is really a continuation of the worship of Baal where the priests were often required to eat of the human sacrifices. According to the website of the Museum of Wales there are still Druids today. Their sacred spots include isolated wood groves and near sacred pools and lakes. Today on Halloween the Druids gather at Stonehenge to symbolically carry out the ancient sacrifices.
The Druids were the forerunners of the cult of Wica, which is why witches play such a major role during Halloween.
To me, especially after knowing the reason behind some of these “traditions”, Halloween is a celebration of darkness, and to think that we can change it for good is wrong. “I just go around for the candy” sounds innocent but why would you ever want to participate in this celebration of “The lord of Death and Demons”.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. – Ephesians 5:8
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? – 2 Corinthians 6:14