In Part 1 of this series, we began dissecting the holiday Halloween. In Part 2, we studied the root beginnings of the religious observance of Allhallowstide, a triduum, meaning a religious holiday observed over the course of three days. As promised, we will break down each holy day within Allhallowstide and discover how each was–and continues to be–celebrated by Christians.
First, let’s remember that some scholars believe that Christians adapted the Celtic holiday, Samahain, into their own religious festivity. Yet other scholars believe that Allhallowstide derived from Christians themselves, completely independent of pagans and their beliefs.
The first holy day, held on October 31st, is All Hallow’s Eve (sometimes shortened to ” Hallowe’en”). This day was believed by early Christians to be a day when “the veil between the material world and the afterlife thinned.” At this point, some current traditions begin to make an appearance. During Hallowe’en, some people would wear masks to prevent roaming souls from recognizing them. Practitioners also pray for the comfort of deceased souls, fast before feasting, and place flowers and candles on the graves of loved ones who have passed before them.
The second day of the triduum is All Saint’s Day and it is held on November 1st. This is the day in which all saints are honored, especially the ones that were not canonized (recognized officially by the Roman Catholic Church as being saints). Traditionally, this is the day that Christians visit graveyards and place candles and flowers at the site of their deceased loved ones. Many Christians who observe this holiday will attend mass.
Finally, the 2nd of November marks All Soul’s Day. Similar to the days that precede it, family members will visit the grave sites of loved ones to place flowers and candles. In England, the poor would go door-to-door begging for food and money. In France, practitioners would decorate churchyards while priests would bless the graves.
Again, none of this sounds like devilish work to me. There are Christians who believe that anything paranormal or relating to the spirit world is demonic. With that ideology, I can see why some Christians would find Halloween to be the devil’s work. But one thing at a time. Up to this point we have learned where Halloween came from, though whether it has pagan origins or not is up to you to research and decide. I think we can agree that based on the evidence presented thus far, there is nothing devilish of the holiday’s beginnings.
In our future articles, we will link Halloween practices of the past to where they are now.
CJ Heath hopes this article has given you some food for thought. She has not performed an exhaustive study on Halloween, yet she hopes she’s presented enough information to get you thinking. She has not learned anything yet that will prevent her from celebrating the holiday, in fact, she feels encouraged by the Christian practices behind it.