Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or Treat!

     Where did Halloween come from?  What were the influences of Halloween?  Let's find out.  Like Christmas, Halloween is a mixture of pagan festivals and a church holiday.  Unlike Christmas, which has been able to maintain its religious connotation, Halloween has pretty much lost the religious connotation and has formed itself into what we know today.  The influences on today's Halloween comes from a mixture of Celtic paganism and Catholic Christianity.
     The Celtic festival, Samhain, which comes from Old Irish meaning "summer's end", was celebrated on October 31st and November 1st.  The Celts were pagan and attached to paganism was the worshiping of the spirit world through divination.  The Catholic influence was the celebration of All Saints Day on November 1st.  Following is an excerpt that has so much information that it would be difficult to form into my own words, so I shall rely on quotes...

     "The vigil of the Feast (the eve) has grown up in the English speaking countries as a festival in itself, All Hallows Eve, or Halloween. While many consider Halloween pagan (and in many instances the celebrations are for many), as far as the Church is concerned the date is simply the eve of the feast of All Saints. Many customs of Halloween reflect the Christian belief that on the feast's vigils we mock evil, because as Christians, it has no real power over us. However, for some Halloween is used for evil purposes, in which many Christians dabble unknowingly. David Morrison explains the proper relationship between Christians and Halloween. Various customs have developed related to Halloween. In the Middle Ages, poor people in the community begged for "soul cakes," and upon receiving these doughnuts, they would agree to pray for departed souls. This is the root of our modern day "trick-or-treat." The custom of masks and costumes developed to mock evil and perhaps confuse the evil spirits by dressing as one of their own. Some Christians visit cemeteries on Halloween, not to practice evil, but to commemorate departed relatives and friends, with picnics and the last flowers of the year."

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