A quick summation of the difference: One view is that Halloween is linked to the Celtic pagan holiday “Samhain” which marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or “the darker half” of the year. It was believed to be a time when the transition between seasons also provided a bridge to the world of the dead and the other world (fairies, etc). Some believed the dead would re-visit families and often a place was set for them. The other view is that Halloween is linked to All Hallows’ Eve which is the day before “All Saints Day.” All Saints Day is a day in which all the Saints of the church are com-memorated. Pope Gregory III dedicated a chapel in Saint Peter’s Basilica on November 1st in the mid eighth century to commemorate all the saints.. The faithful would prepare for All Saints Day celebra-tions with prayer and fasting the day before.
The debate continues as to whether All Saints Day and All Hallows’ Eve were an effort to “Christianize” a pagan ritual or not. An argument persists that the Christian observances have no connection to Sama-hain other than falling on the same days. The argument is that Halloween (as Hallows’ Eve) originated and developed independently than the pagan ritual. However, history shows us that during the Samhain celebrations included games, disguises, going door to door and reciting verses in exchange for food. Hmmm.
Whatever side of the debate we may fall on, it is important to communicate a consistent message. I once heard a Kenyan Christian tell the story that when he first became a Christian, he was exposed to the teaching that the masks associated with his tribal dances were demonic in nature and had to be set aside. He complied and then the day came when he visited the missionary compound on October 31st and saw the missionary children in disguises with masks of goblins running around. When he asked about that he was told “this is different.” As we can see, this day is a complicated mix of evolved tradi-tions and influences.
Perhaps it would be helpful if we focus on another observance in October. The week of 17th through the 21st is “Choose to be G.R.E.A.T. week”. I opted to choose to focus on being:
Godly: meaning reflecting God or acting in way that pleases God.
Respectful meaning I will recognize the value in others before I speak or act.
Attentive, meaning my focus will be on others and not me.
Teachable, meaning I won’t pretend to have all the answers and be willing to learn.
How will you be G.R.E.A.T. this month?
Have a blessed October,