Christianity, Paganism, and Secular Halloween

October 26, 2002

Source: Omaha World-Herald

On October 26, 2002 Omaha World-Herald reported that "Some... conservative Christians, Jews and Muslims, object to [Halloween's] pagan roots. But Halloween, which many Americans will celebrate Thursday, actually has numerous ties to Christian faiths. Halloween has its origins in the pagan celebration of the Celtic New Year, which fell during harvest time, around the beginning of November. The Celts - who lived in what are today the British Isles and France - honored the New Year with several festivals, the most important of which was the Fire Festival, called Samhain ("end of summer"). In the fifth century, the church began converting pagan worshippers in Northern Europe to Christianity. But many were slow to give up their old traditions and continued to celebrate Samhain. Church officials decided to deal with the problem by adopting the festival and giving it a Christian slant. In spring A.D. 609, Pope Boniface IV designated a celebration to honor Christian saints instead of pagan deities. A century later, the church moved the festival to Nov. 1 to coincide with Samhain. A sacred vigil was held the evening before, Oct. 31, which became known as All Hallow's Eve. In 834, Pope Gregory IV made All Saints Day an official church holiday and ordered that all Christian churches observe it on Nov. 1."