What is the Christian history of Halloween?
Christian History of Halloween – The Origins
Halloween began to evolve as early as AD 270 from the Celt’s culture in Ireland who practiced a special costume party event the night before their annual feast of “Samhain,” which had a two-fold purpose. The feast was not only a memorial to commemorate their deceased relatives but also a thanksgiving to close the end of the summer season of light and to prepare diligently for entering into the darkness of the long winter season.
Superstition has it that the "eve" before the feast was then a time to ward off any evil spirits which they believed were cast out or released from the spirit world realm into their physical world and who would come to attack the feast celebration. Believing that demons, witches, and hobgoblins were real and existed, October 31 then became an annual costume event to try through disguised appearance fool the evil spirits into thinking they were not humans to be harmed.
The Druids, who were the Celt’s ruling class, required of everyone to attempt tricking the evil spirits by dressing up to look like goblins, witches, and devils, and by carving ugly, monstrous faces on gourds lighted with candles, and by sweetly putting treats outside their door. The challenge, according to superstition, was to divert the evil spirits attention away from their feast the following day.
Christian History of Halloween – Missionary Involvement
The Lord had different plans for the Celt’s and during the second century He sent a few missionaries to England and Ireland to convert the people to Christianity. When the Christian missionaries journeyed from Europe and arrived in the land of the Celt’s, the Druids, after hearing the Gospel, became eager for all their people to become Christians and to denounce their pagan gods and practices such as superstitiously appeasing and cast off evil demon spirits.
In time, they adapted and combined the tradition of their feast on November 1 and “all Hallows Eve” together with the Gospel. The Christian monks decided it would be an effective way to share the Gospel and to dispel and lay to rest the Celt’s superstition about ghosts and evil spirits. That Christ, their Creator and Savior, defeated Satan, death, and evil at the cross and through Him alone, evil demons were powerless and would flee.
Halloween and the Samhain Feast also provided an opportunity to be reminded of or learn about Christian heroes and martyrs along with the Celt‘s continuing to officially recognize and commemorate the souls of their blessed dead who had been declared saints.
Many scholars agree that the commemoration of saints on November 1 first originated in Ireland, spread from there to England, and then to the continent of Europe with the rise of Christianity. By the ninth century, the Roman Catholic Church adopted the Celt’s Halloween tradition and Pope Gregory IV sent out an official letter of notification urging that Halloween be observed in harmony with All Saints Day throughout the Roman Empire.
Halloween is derived from the term All Hollows Eve and "Hallomass," meaning Holy evening.
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