Halloween Origins: What are the different names?
Although Halloween origins began with the Celtic druids over 2,000 years ago, the seasonal practices are observed in many countries. Halloween falls within the Fall Equinox that starts from September 23 through November 4 approximately. This time period is celebrated in all cultures and is also known as:
- Alban Elfed
- Autumn Equinox
- Fall Solstice
- Feast of Avalon
- Festival of Dionysus
- Harvest Home
- Harvest Tide
- Night of the Hunter
- Second Harvest Festival
- Wine Harvest
- Witch’s Thanksgiving
- Hallow mass
- The day of the Dead
- All Saint’s Day
Halloween Origins: What is Samhain?
These Halloween origins are a time in which Druidism and Celtic Reconstructionists celebrate Samhain as a feast for the dead. Divination and fortune telling is believed to have better communication with the spirit world because the fall season holds the thinnest partition between the two worlds of the living and the dead. The Druids built huge sacred bonfires to offer sacrifices to the many Celtic deities that number over five hundred named gods. Before each yearly sacred bonfire, the Celts would extinguish their hearth fires and relight them with embers from the bonfire. Study more of the history of Halloween.
Halloween Origins: How do other cultures celebrate?
From the ancient Celtics era of the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Scotland, the celebration practices has spread throughout the cultures of the world:
- Ancient Britain: A megalithic people that predated the Celts, Romans, and Saxons by thousands of years and utilized Stonehenge and other stone structures in their traditions.
- Ancient Ireland: Celebrated along side a cluster of megalithic cairns (a conical heap of stones) that are scattered through the hills of Loughcrew, located northwest of Dublin. The Loughcrew Cairn T is a passage tomb that was designed to allow the rising sun to illuminate a back stone, which was decorated with astronomical symbols.
- Astrologers: Observe this time as the sun enters the sign of Libra, which is the constellation of the balance or scales.
- Catholicism, Protestant, and Judaism: Have celebrations and feasts during this time.
- Chumash: Is a Native American tribe from Southern California that celebrates the “sons of Kakunupmawa” or “children of the sun.” They considered that the thoughts of the tribe would become focused on unity to face the winter months.
- France: In the late 18th Century, at the time of the French Revolution, a new calendar was adopted. They divided the calendar into twelve months of thirty days, leaving five or six days left over. Celebrations fill these days to idolize virtue, genius, work, opinion, prizes, and revolution.
- Mayan: Around 1050, the Mayan constructed The Pyramid of Kukukan at Chichen Itza in Yucatan, Mexico and the Mayan Calendar. The pyramid has the same number of steps to its architecture as there are days in a year and displays different triangle patterns of light during the passing seasons. The seven triangles become visible on the pyramid staircase after the fall harvest that was observed with ceremonious rituals.
- Native American Spirituality: There are stone structures still standing in North America that were created by natives. There is a 20-acre spot in Vermont, USA where feast observations were held. Another site called “America’s Stonehenge” is a megalithic construction found in Salem, New Hampshire on Mystery Hill. It contains five stones that are standing and one fallen stone in alignment with the rising and setting of the sun. It was used as the focal point of the observed rituals.
- Neopaganism: Wicca is the most popular of this group of religious beliefs that has attempted to recreate ancient Pagan religions. These groups have based their beliefs of the ancient Celts, symbols, and practices; and they have mixed them with numerous more recent Masonic ceremonial rituals for their sabbats (Witches’ Sabbath). The Witch’s Thanksgiving is the main harvest feast day of the Wicca, celebrating the Bountiful Mother aspects of the fall harvest.
- Japan: Celebrates six days for Higan-e. It is based on the observation of giving, the precepts, perseverance, effort, meditation, and wisdom. These are believed to be needed before a person can arrive at a spiritual level of nirvana. Higan means the other shore and includes rituals for repentance and enlightenment in the next life. It is also a time of ceremonious rites in remembering the dead.
Halloween Origins: Practical Response
How do parents today decide what Halloween events to practice with their children? It is a tough decision for some because they don’t want any of the pagan elements to influence their children. One thing is sure -- keep your family away from the evil aspects of Halloween. Instead, be creative and provide a safe and fun night for your children.
Consider various alternative approaches to this holiday and use them as a means to get to know your neighbors. Ask your church to sponsor a large event for your community. Learn fun ideas here!
Bring light to the darkness by passing out Halloween tracts to the children who come to your door. Along with candy, you can give them a fun booklet that shares the light of Jesus.
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