Few pagan festivals have a history as strange as Halloween. This day is the eve of Allhallows Day (All Saints Day) and is one of the most solemn festivals of the Roman Catholic Church. Ironically it is also a day which commemorates beings and rites with which Christendom has claimed to be at war.
The “superstition” of Halloween is that from sundown October 31st until sunrise November 1st is that the unseen spirit world is closer to our world than at any other time. This is supposed to create a special opportunity for interactions between our world, and the world of the dead.
The origins of Halloween go back at least 4,000 years. The “holiday” comes to us from the ancient Celtic “Druids” of Wicca pagans who on November 1st honored their god “Samhain” the “Lord of the dead”. This was the date that celebrated the end of Fall and the beginning of Winter on their calendar. As such it was a time at which leaves began to turn brown, and death seemed closer to this world. They believed that on this day, the dead would cross back over into this world for one night.
According to the pagan custom, if you did not “treat” Samhain and the spirits of the world of the dead on this night with special offerings, that they would “trick” you with a curse on your house. Thus was the origin of “Trick or Treat”, giving out Halloween candy is making offerings to false gods. Receiving and eating Halloween candy is therefore receiving and eating food offered up to idols, forbidden in Scripture (Acts 15:29).
Pope Gregory III (731-741) recognized this day by consecrating the chapel in St. Peter’s basilica to all the saints. Then in 834 Pope Gregory IV established this festival on the Christian calendar. Since this was the day when the world of the dead came in close contact with our world, it was an “ideal” time for a day in which the “Church” would petition the dead saints to pray on behalf of the living, in much the same way that pagans had petitioned false gods and the dead on behalf of the living.
The “Jack O Lantern” originates from the legends surrounding a man named “Jack” whom made bargains with the devil and who was so evil that there was not only no place found from him in heaven, but the devil would not even allow him in hell. As a result, when he died, Jack was consigned to wander the earth endlessly with only the light of his lantern. Jack’s spirit received special strength on Halloween night.
The ancient pagan religion of the Celts was called “Wicca” and is effectively identical with “witchcraft”. Because of this Halloween is associated with witches and black cats as well as the dead. The ancient Wiccans would gather all of their criminals in wickerwork cages all year long, and burn them alive at Halloween. For this reason we get the words “Wickerwork” and “Wicked” from the Wiccans. It is from this fact that we get the very expression “wicked witch”.
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