Halloween Vs. Samhain


It amazes me how many adults think that Halloween is somehow Satanic. I'm infuriated when I "Trick or Treat" with little ones and they go up to a lights-ablaze house and the people in these inviting looking places lecture the children and impress upon their maleable minds the opinion that Halloween is evil. Ergo, these egocentric lunatics are telling young children that their parents are spawns and worshippers of the devil.

Too bad these propaganda spouting idiots aren't living in the neighborhood I grew up in. Their windows would be soaped and their houses covered in eggs. Of course, without the shells!

Here's another case of asinine logic. There's a Christian school that tells people that Halloween is Satanic so, instead of celebrating Halloween, they celebrate the Fall Harvest! The freaking Fall Harvest! I'll bet the pagan fertility gods are dancing to that one. Long live Dionysus!

Does that make sense? In order to avoid celebrating a Christian tradition, Christian schools are reverting to fetish worship? Alright, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. But, only a bit. And my basic point it still valid.

Most of what I have to say from this point on is taken from The Book of Hallowe'en by Ruth Edna Kelley. I got this from SacredTexts.com. Spring for the CD that this site offers; it keeps them converting tomes of obscure materials into mass media for the masses (you and me).

First of all, what's Samhain? Well, Samhain, which is pronounced sow'-wen (according to Danzig) was (or is?) a Celtic festival that takes place on November 1st of each year. The name means Summer's End. After the last harvest of each year, that part of the year concerned with life was considered to have ended. On that day, October 31st, the tradition was to extinguish all fires at the altars to Baal. Then, new "forced fires" were lit in preparation of November 1st, the day that signified the beginning of the loss of the sun for the winter.

This fire was carried from altar to home to home and provided the light and warmth through the coming Winter. It's very pagan and related strongly to Harvest Festivals, only more sombre. That's because Samhain is also the anniversary when the Second Battle of Moytura is remembered. In this battle evil triumphed over good, the latter represented by the Tuatha De Danann.

Samhain then came to be associated with death. What else could it be associated with?

Let's move on to Halloween and the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic Church likes to remember its saints. In fact, with few exceptions, each and every day of the year, is dedicated to one or two specifically named saints. Still, since there are hundreds of saints and only 365 days in a year, the Church had to come up with a way of remembering the lesser ones. Eureka! The Church decided to lump "the best of the rest" together and do them all on one day.

May seemed like a good time to do this. ("May?" you say. "Halloween's in October!" We'll get to that.) The fact is, though, that in 835 A.D. celebrating All Saints' Day in May was standardized by the Pope. Anybody catch anything there? Like the complete lack of Satanism?

Little did the Church realize how popular this celebration in May would become! Pilgrims by the thousands would show up in Rome to celebrate All Saints' Day. In fact, hungry pilgrims by the thousands would show up in Rome to celebrate All Saints' Day. What's a Pontiff to do? Why, move the day to November! Then, the annual harvest can be used to feed these hungry people. Notice how the harvest is used as a tool by those celebrating the saints and not as a cause for celebration in its own rite.

This idea was so popular that in time even stodgy Episcopalians joined the Roman Catholic Church in the spirit of remembering the saints.

So what about the millions of departed who weren't quite saints but they made it to heaven anyway? Well, the Church decided that the day after All Saints' Day should be set aside to remember the righteous who didn't get the name recognition of the others. So, the day after All Saints' Day became All Souls' Day, November 2nd.

These were big days and required big preparations. So much so that the night before each festivity became its own separate little celebration. The night before All Souls' Day is, easily enough, All Souls' Eve. But the night before All Saints' Day is All Hallows' Eve. This is also known as Halloween (or auction pinochle?).

Does anyone yet see any correlation between Samhain and Halloween? I sure don't. The intent is surely different. Anyone who says that Halloween is Satanic knows nothing about either subject.

So let's keep moving on.

As the Roman Catholic Church moved through the British Isles, and Church celbration dates matched up with local rites, I'm conjecturing that there had to be a blending of customs and beliefs. In fact, in "Catholic countries the faithful turn their steps to the churchyard and place flowers on the graves of the departed, the Protestant section, and that portion of the community known as worldly people, celebrate the occasion by making merry and using various means to peer into the future." (The Origins of Popular Superstitions and Customs by T. Sharper Knowlson (1910))

Halloween is the eve of the day for remembering the saints! That's it! It's not any more demonic than any other day of the year!

Unless you're talking about Walpurgis Night. Remember that whole May time celebration? Well, the night before May 1st is Walpurgis Night. "A superstition goes, that if one wishes to see witches, he must put on his clothes wrong side out, and creep backward to a crossroads, or wear wild radish, on May Eve." from the The Book of Hallowe'en. That's the scary day. And the topic of Ley Lines isn't part of this rant.

So, quit telling little children that they're evil for remembering the saints! Quit substituting pagan themed rituals for Christian celebrations! Let Halloween be enjoyed for what it is - a time of revelry in anticipation of heavenly rewards!

Or maybe it's just a time for spooky stuff. (Have you seen my movie comments?)

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It's your pick.