(Hallowe’en) is an annual holiday observed on October 31, primarily in the USA, Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. It has roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain (derived from Old Irish roughly meaning “summer’s end”) and the Christian holiday All Saint’s Day, but is today largely a secular celebration.
The ancient Celts believed that the border between this world and the Otherworld became thin on Samhain, allowing spirits (both harmless and harmful) to pass through. The family’s ancestors were honoured and invited home while harmful spirits were warded off. It is believed that the need to ward off harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks. Their purpose was to disguise oneself as a harmful spirit and thus avoid harm. The name ‘Halloween’ and many of its present-day traditions derive from the Old English era.
Origin of name
The word Halloween is first attested in the 16th century and represents a Scottish variant of the fuller All-Hallows-Even (“evening”), that is, the night before All Hallows Day. Up through the early 20th century, the spelling “Hallowe’en” was frequently used, eliding the “v” and shortening the word. All-Hallows-Even is itself not attested until 1556.
Christian attitudes towards Halloween are quite diverse. In the Anglican Church, some dioceses have chosen to emphasize the Christian traditions of All Saints’ Day.
Many Christians ascribe no negative significance to Halloween, treating it as a purely secular holiday devoted to celebrating “imaginary spooks” and handing out candy. Other Christians feel concerned about Halloween, and reject the holiday because they feel it trivializes – or celebrates – paganism, the occult, or other practices and cultural phenomena deemed incompatible with their beliefs. Some consider Halloween to be completely incompatible with the Christian faith because of its origin as a pagan ” Festival of the Dead”.
A lovely Christian friend sent this little reflection on one of the symbols of the festival.
“Being a Christian is like being a pumpkin. God picks you from the patch and washes all the dirt off of you. He cuts off the top and scoops out all the yucky stuff. He removes the seeds of doubt, hate and greed. He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside of you to shine for the entire world to see.” This was passed to me by another pumpkin. Now it’s your turn to pass on to the pumpkins in your patch.