Originally posted on October 2, 2021.
Halloween is a popular celebration on October 31st in the United States. Halloween is observed in a number of countries in Asia, Europe, South America, as well as in Canada. It has become a commercial celebration around the world. Where does it come from?
Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. According to the History Channel, the Celts lived 2,000 years ago, mostly in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France. They celebrated their new year on November 1st. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter.
Winter was the time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. A celebration that is quite similar to the Mexican “Dia de Los Muertos” It is quite interesting to learn the differences between the celebration in other cultures.
The American version of the celebration of Halloween was originally extremely limited in colonial New England because of the rigid Protestant belief systems there. Halloween was much more common in Maryland and the southern colonies. As religions such as Christianity, beliefs, and customs of different European ethnic groups and the American Indians blended over the years, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge.
The first celebrations included “play parties,” which were public events held to celebrate the harvest. Neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes, dance and sing. Over the years the spiritual part has been overlooked and sometimes forgotten.
Many countries have overtaken the American template of the celebration. Unfortunately, people are more concerned about customs and decorations during the season and have neglected the true reason and purpose of the Halloween celebration. However, it appears that what we know as All Hallow Tide, or more specifically Halloween has been celebrated in ancient cultures around the world not only in Europe. Its origin remains a mystery.
Therefore let’s take another look at the Halloween season in the modern Christian context:
- The Allhallowtide, Hallowtide, Allsaintstide, or the Hallowmas season is the father of the Halloween celebration observed on October 31.
- The Hollows or All Hallows day (All Saints’ Day) celebration observed on November 1, a day after Halloween, is a Christian festival that is observed to honor and remember all Saints.
- The Day of the Dead (All Souls’ Day) is observed on the 2nd of November, two days after Halloween and a day after the Hollows.
Halloween, The Hollows, and All Souls’ Day form the Allhallowtide. The Allhallowtide is the Three-day observance of All Hallows. It represents the occasion to celebrate and honor the dead, including the saints, martyrs, and all our family members and friends that have departed from the land of the living.
DIA DE LOS MUERTOS
The Mexican-style celebration of the Day of the Dead or “Dia de Muertos” or “Dia de Los Muertos” is very popular. The holiday is also celebrated in Central- and South America. However, it is slightly different from the Allhallowtide. Dia de Los Muertos is celebrated on November 1st and November 2nd. It acknowledges the symbolic relationship between life and death. During the celebration, it is believed that the spirits of the dead return home and spend time with their relatives on these two days. To welcome them, the family builds altars in their honor.
LOSING THE MEANING OF THE SEASON
Instead of honoring and remembering our departed family and friends during the Halloween celebration, it has turned into full-mode partying. During all this time, when did we visit their graves and drop flowers? Do we pray for them? I know some people still do but let’s be honest for most people it’s just another reason to party (nothing else).
There is no time to honor the departed because we need to buy customs, decorations, and drinks for the party. That’s how I experienced it within my circle of family members and friends. It wasn’t always like this. People enjoyed parties but they also pay tribute to the departed.
It’s saddening that vandalism takes place in the cemeteries during this time. At the same time, I think it’s an outdated custom. Practically, there is not enough space to bury everyone, even when you have multiple graves on top of each other.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SEASON
We tend to forget the importance and essence of the occasion. We find it fun to dress up and party which is fine but we have forgotten the spiritual part of the holiday period. We should not forget to honor deceased loved ones and ancestors. There are quite a number of ways to honor and remember those we love that are no longer with us. The following are some examples of the many ways to remember. It is not limited to only these as each culture and religion has its own traditions.
VISITING THE RESTING PLACE
For those that are able to visit the graves of their loved ones this is an opportunity to see the state of the resting place and if necessary to clean or restore its proper state. And of course if desired leave flowers, fruits, or belongings of the departed whatever feels appropriate. Each culture has its ways to pay tribute at the grave and they should be respected. Other than ensuring the proper state of the grave many people take the opportunity to have a one-sided conversation with the departed. It’s a good therapy exercise for some people.
in the case where is no grave to visit a simple prayer would be sufficient. It is an old custom among Catholics to pray the rosary along with a special prayer for the departed. it is often done at the departed’s home or at the house of a family member. Another custom is to arrange for a mass to pray and remember the dead and all family and funds are invited to attend.
Another way is to bring out their favorite things to pass time like their favorite board games and music. We can bring out their favorite movies to watch. They could be movies from the pre-code era, the 60s, 70s, and 80s like Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Invisible Man, Wolf Man, and some Alfred Hitchcock movies. These are some of the movies people watched during the Allhallowtide holiday. This is one way out of the many ways you can remember the departed.
All in all, in my opinion, just like every other holiday season such as Christmas and Easter, the Halloween season also has its spiritual importance. Everyone has someone dear that passed away that they remember fondly. I believe they deserve a heartfelt prayer so their soul remains in peace or gain peace. For those that are not able to pray, a simple one-sided conversation works as well. We should be conscious of the importance of the celebration.
I believe by now, you know the reason behind the Allhallowtide. Are you willing to celebrate it in truth? How do you feel about the way people celebrate the Halloween holiday these days? Feel free to comment in the comment section below. I would love to hear from you.
After Skool. 2022. The Mysterious Origin of Halloween – Randall Carlson
Arroyo, M. Hallowmas-The Triduum of The Saints, Archive Today.
BBC. 2011. All Hallows’ Eve. Web Archive.
Bercial, B. Dia de Los Muertos. Mexican Museum.
Flick, S. Christianizing-Halloween-Hallowmas, Christian Heritage Fellowship Inc.
History Channel. 2009. History of Halloween,
History Channel. 2009. Halloween Around The World,
History Channel. 2009. Halloween.