Halloween, also known as All Hallows’ Eve, is a yearly holiday observed around the world on October 31st, the eve before the Western Christian feast of All Hallows. According to some scholars, All Hallows’ Eve initially incorporated traditions from pagan harvest festivals and festivals honoring the dead, particularly the Celtic Samhain; other scholars maintain that the feast originated entirely independently of Samhain.
Typical festive Halloween activities include trick-or-treating (also known as “guising“), attending costume parties, carving jack-o’-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, visiting haunted attractions, playing pranks, telling scary stories, and watching horror films, as well as the religious observances of praying, fasting and attending vigils or church services.
All Saints’ Day (in the Roman Catholic Church officially the and also called All Hallows or Hallowmas), often shortened to All Saints, is a solemnity celebrated on 1 November by parts of Western Christianity, and on the first Sunday after Pentecost in Eastern Christianity, in honour of all the saints, known and unknown. In the Western calendar it is the day after Halloween and the day before All Souls’ Day.
In Western Christian theology, the day commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven. It is a national holiday in many historically Catholic countries. In the Catholic Church and many Anglican churches, the next day specifically commemorates the departed faithful who have not yet been purified and reached heaven. Christians who celebrate All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day do so in the fundamental belief that there is a prayerful spiritual bond between those in purgatory (the ‘Church Suffering‘), those in heaven (the ‘church triumphant‘), and the living (the ‘church militant‘). Other Christian traditions define, remember and respond to the saints in different ways; for example, in the Methodist Church, the word “saints” refers to all Christians and therefore, on All Saint’s Day, the Church Universal, as well as the deceased members of a local congregation, are honoured and remembered.
Samhain is a Gaelic harvest festival held on October 31–November 1. It was linked to festivals held around the same time in other Celtic cultures, and was popularized as the “Celtic New Year” from the late 19th century, following Sir John Rhys and Sir James Frazer. The date of Samhain was later associated with the Catholic All Saints’ Day (and later All Souls’ Day) from at least the 8th century, and both the Gaelic and the Catholic liturgical festival have influenced the secular customs now connected with Halloween.
The medieval Goidelic festival of Samhain marked the end of the harvest, the end of the “lighter half” of the year and beginning of the “darker half”. It was celebrated over the course of several days and had some elements of a Festival of the Dead.Bonfires played a large part in the festivities. People and their livestock would often walk between two bonfires as a cleansing ritual, and the bones of slaughtered livestock were cast into its flames.
Samhain is celebrated as a religious festival by some neopagans.
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Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
(James 4:7 ESV)
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
(Isaiah 5:20 ESV)