Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Witches and ghosts, pumpkins and bonfires, trick or treat.
The outward trappings of Halloween are easy to identify.
The Horror Tree is ready to ruin your holiday, with the truth!
Halloween has also been called All Hallows’ Eve, the eve of All Saints’ Day.
This supposedly Christian name, however, hides origins that are far from hallowed.
In fact, scholars say that Halloween’s roots go back to a time long before Christianity, the era when the ancient Celts inhabited Britain and Ireland. Using a lunar calendar, the Celts divided the year into two seasons—the dark winter months and the light summer months.
On the full moon nearest November 1, the Celts celebrated the festival of Samhain, meaning “Summer’s End.”
The festival of Samhain
It was believed that on the festival of Samhain, the veil between the human and the supernatural worlds was parted and spirits, both good and evil, roamed the earth.
The souls of the dead were thought to return to their homes, and families would put out food and drink for their ghostly visitors in hopes of appeasing them and warding off misfortune.
Thus, today when children dressed as ghosts or witches go from house to house demanding a Halloween treat or threatening a mischievous trick, they unwittingly perpetuate the ancient rituals of Samhain. Jean Markale comments in his book Halloween, histoire et traditions (Halloween—History and Traditions): “In receiving something in their hands, they establish, on a symbolic level that they do not understand, a brotherly exchange between the visible and the invisible worlds. That is why the Halloween masquerades . . . are in fact sacred ceremonies.”
Since people believed that the barriers between the physical and supernatural realms were down, they thought that humans were able to cross over into the spirit world with ease. Samhain was therefore a particularly auspicious time to unlock the secrets of the future.
Apples or hazelnuts, both viewed as products of sacred trees, were used to divine information concerning marriage, sickness, and death. For example, apples with identifying marks were placed in a tub of water. By seizing an apple using only the mouth, a young man or woman was supposed to be able to identify his or her future spouse. This divination practice survives today in the Halloween game of bobbing for apples.
Samhain was also characterized by drunken revelry and a casting aside of inhibitions. “Traditional values, if not flouted, were reversed,” states Markale. “What was forbidden was allowed, and what was allowed was forbidden.” Halloween still reflects this spirit today, which no doubt accounts to a great extent for its increasing popularity. Commenting on this, The Encyclopedia of Religion describes Halloween nowadays as “a time when adults can also cross cultural boundaries and shed their identities by indulging in an uninhibited evening of frivolity. Thus, the basic Celtic quality of the festival as an evening of annual escape from normal realities and expectations has remained into the twentieth century.”
A "Christian" mask
Following the potato famine in the 19th century, Irish immigrants took Halloween and its customs to the United States. From there it has returned to Europe in the past few years.
The growing popularity of Halloween, though, is not viewed favorably by all.
As notes the newspaper Le Monde, “Halloween, which coincides with All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day (November 1 and 2) and could even replace them, is making shopkeepers happy and panicking churchmen.”
Church representatives in France have expressed concern over the decline of these traditional Catholic holidays in favor of Halloween, seeing it as a sign of the “paganization of society.”
For Stanislas Lalanne, spokesman for France’s Conference of Catholic Bishops, Halloween ‘distorts the meaning of life and death.’
The bishop of Nice, Jean Bonfils, stated that “this festival and its rituals have nothing to do with our Mediterranean and Christian culture,” and he warned Catholics against “the most important festival of Satanists the world over.”
Carlo Maria Martini, cardinal of Milan, Italy, urged Italians not to abandon Catholic holidays, declaring that Halloween is “alien to our tradition, which has immense value and must be continued. All Souls’ Day is a celebration that belongs to our history. It is the moment in which hope for eternal life unfolds, a moment in which the Lord makes us understand that there is more to life than that on earth.”
Many sincere Catholics no doubt feel the same way.
Yet, is the distinction between Halloween and All Souls’ Day as clear-cut as these comments would lead us to believe?
What does a close examination of the roots of these Catholic holidays reveal?
The Catholic Encyclopedia defines All Saints’ Day as a feast to “honour all the saints, known and unknown.” At the end of the second century, so-called Christians began to honor those who had been martyred for their faith and, believing that they were already with Christ in heaven, prayed to them to intercede on their behalf.
A regular commemoration began when on May 13, 609 or 610 C.E., Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon—the Roman temple of all the gods—to Mary and all the martyrs. Markale comments: “The Roman gods left their place to the saints of the triumphant religion.”
The change of date to November came under Pope Gregory III (731-741 C.E.), who dedicated a chapel in Rome to all the saints and ordered that they be honored on November 1.
Exactly why he did this is unknown.
But it may have been because such a holiday was already being celebrated on this date in England.
The Encyclopedia of Religion points out: “Samhain remained a popular festival among the Celtic people throughout the christianization of Great Britain.
The British church attempted to divert this interest in pagan customs by adding a Christian celebration to the calendar on the same date as Samhain. . . .
The medieval British commemoration of All Saints’ Day may have prompted the universal celebration of this feast throughout the Christian church.”
Markale points out the increasing influence of Irish monks throughout Europe at this time.
The New Catholic Encyclopedia also observes: “The Irish often assigned the first of the month to important feasts, and since November 1 was also the beginning of the Celtic winter, it would have been a likely date for a feast of all the saints.” Finally, in 835 C.E., Pope Gregory IV made this festival universal.
As for All Souls’ Day, on which prayers are recited in order to help souls in purgatory attain heavenly bliss, this holiday was fixed on November 2 during the 11th century by the monks of Cluny, France.
While All Souls’ Day is ostensibly a Catholic holiday, it is clear that confusion existed in the minds of ordinary folk.
The New Catholic Encyclopedia notes that “throughout the Middle Ages it was popular belief that the souls in purgatory could appear on this day as will-o’-the-wisps, witches, toads, etc.”
Unable to uproot pagan beliefs from the hearts of its flock, the church simply hid them behind a “Christian” mask.
Highlighting this fact, The Encyclopedia of Religion says: “The Christian festival, the Feast of All Saints, commemorates the known and unknown saints of the Christian religion just as Samhain had acknowledged and paid tribute to the Celtic deities.”
What is the truth?
Just how concerned should you be about the dark past of Halloween and similar celebrations?
After all, in most people’s minds, Halloween is little more than a time to dress up and have fun.
But would you not agree that it is important for parents to make sure that whatever recreation their children pursue is wholesome and not harmful?
A school inspector from France with more than 20 years of experience in teaching was asked about the influence of Halloween on young children.
He commented: “I am worried that going from house to house threatening adults in order to obtain sweets can have long-term negative consequences on children. It can foster a selfish and egocentric personality. They learn that by exerting pressure, by demanding with threats, by making others afraid, they can obtain what they want.” Parents must therefore ask themselves, ‘What “lessons” will my children learn from celebrating this holiday?’
Not surprisingly, many families find that giving in to childish demands for treats and costumes can be an expensive undertaking.
“Halloween . . . is not a holiday,” observes Robert Rochefort, general director of France’s Research Center for the Study and Observation of Living Conditions, “it is event marketing.” Halloween fills a shopping lull prior to Christmas. In other words, it is just one more thing pressuring people to spend money.
I have noticed it is a very popular holiday even for Christians!
The Bible thus condemns the whole idea of putting a Christian mask on a pagan practice!
While it is true that the vast majority of those who celebrate Halloween would claim to spurn Satanic practices, we should, nevertheless, be aware that historically this holiday has close connections with the occult.
I only showed you one aspect of the lies of halloween, the lies and mask of the catholics. But there are so many more things you should know.
So see you next year for more!