Is Halloween a Holy Day?

H/T: Fox News here

It’s the end of a October, and the witches and goblins will be out soon. But is Halloween a pagan holiday?

Historians have said that Halloween originated from the Ancient Celtic pagan holiday called Samhain, also called the “Day of the Dead.”  They believed that on this day the souls of the dead were allowed access into the “land of the dead.”

The name Halloween is derived from “All Hallows Eve,” or the night preceding “All Saint’s (Hallows’) Day.”

Catholic bishops in the UK are reminding trick or treaters of this relationship with the Holy Day. They’re backing an initiative called “Night of Light,” which encourages Christians to place a light in their window on Halloween to give witness that they are followers of Jesus Christ.

The “Night of Light” is the inspiration of Damian Stayne, who says it is meant to “reclaim Halloween as a joyful Christian celebration.”

Stayne points out that Halloween or “All Hallows Eve” is the vigil, or the night before the Feast of All Saints. November 1, All Saints Day, is a holiday in most Catholic countries.

All Saints Day, Stayne says, is the “feast in which Catholics celebrate the glory of God in his saints, the victory of light over darkness in the lives of God’s holy ones in heaven.”

Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton notes that Halloween is the biggest commercial festival after Christmas and Easter. “It’s time we reminded Christians of what it really is,” he says.

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11 thoughts on “Is Halloween a Holy Day?

  1. The common cultural observance of Halloween aside, there are American and Canadian Orthodox Christians following the Roman and Anglican Rites for whom Halloween remains the eve/vigil of All Saints’ day and as such, if I’m not mistaken, a day of strict fasting.

  2. I agree with Citizen about the imagery but also would like to comment that whenever we tell people we don’t “do Halloween”, the reaction we get is like we just burned the American flag! It seems that somehow people consider this to be such a wholesome American tradition and anyone who even thinks of criticizing it is a religious fanatic. How did we get there?! So sad.

  3. Lemme guess. He’s another convert who refuses to leave his former practices behind and instead tries to justify them and, in effect, his continued participation in them…

    If Halloween is so benign, then why does all of its associated imagery consist of demons, ghosts, hauntings, pain, gore, the devil himself and the complete mocking of and lack of respect for the dead??! How is this compatible with Orthodoxy? How is this salvific? Do any of you really think any of the holy fathers would approve of this complete waste of time? Come on!

  4. I really hadn’t intended on joining this discussion. Personally, my family doesn’t participate in Halloween – no trick or treating, kids don’t attend the Halloween party at school, etc.; but the Halloween decorations in schools, stores and so on don’t bother me one bit. That’s simply the tradition here and that’s that.

    But then I read the sermon that Romanos linked to. That was appalling: did he actually use the Liturgy, Sunday morning church time to put a plug for Halloween? Really? Nothing else to talk about?

  5. Halloween — at least in the United States — is not a holy day. It is simply a day for children — usually dressed in costumes — to walk around their neighborhood for an hour or so after dusk and receive candy and other goodies from their neighbors.

    Halloween, then, is a day that provides much joy for our children.

  6. I guess pentecostalized women aren’t the only ones inveighing against Halloween. I found this on my FaceBook, posted by a fellow Orthodox (a convert from Islam, I think), written by Bishop Christodoulos…

    From an Orthodox Christian point of view, we can see many diabolical beliefs and practices associated with this feast which have endured to this time. On the eve of the New Year’s festival, the Druids, who were the priests of the Celtic cult, instructed their people to extinguish all hearth fires and lights. On the evening of the festival, a huge bonfire built from oak branches (oak was regarded by the Celts as sacred) was ignited. Upon this fire sacrifices were burned as an offering in order to appease and cajole Samhain, the Prince of Death. It was also believed that Samhain, being pleased by the offerings, allowed the souls of the dead to return to their homes for a festal visit on this day. It is from this belief that the practice of wandering about in the dark dressed up in costumes imitating ghosts, witches, hobgoblins, fairies, etc. grew up. For the living entered into fellowship and communion with the dead by what was, and still is, a ritual act of imitation, through costume and the activity of wandering around in the dark of night, even as the souls of the dead were believed to wander.

    The dialogue of trick or treat is also an integral part of this system of beliefs and practices. It was believed that the souls of the dead who had entered into the world of darkness, decay and death, and therefore into total communion with and submission to Samhain, bore the affliction of great hunger on their festal visit. Out of this grew the practice of begging, which was a further ritual enactment and imitation of what the Celts believed to be the activities of the souls of the dead on their festal visit. Associated with this is the still further implication that if the souls of the dead and their imitators were not appeased with “treats”, i.e., offerings, then the wrath and anger of Samhain would be unleashed through a system of “tricks”, i.e. curses. Such is the true meaning of this pagan feast. It is then evident that for an Orthodox Christian participation at any level is impossible and idolatrous, resulting in a genuine betrayal of God and Church. If we participate in the ritual activity of imitating the dead and wandering in the dark asking for treats or offering them to children, we then have willfully sought fellowship with the dead, whose Lord is not Samhain, but rather Satan. It is to Satan then that these treats are offered, not to children.

    To read the rest, link here:
    http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/note.php?note_id=450180683795&id=504700510

  7. In North America at least, Halloween is a folk holiday not seriously related to any religion, either Christian or satanic. Its pagan origins in pre-Christian Europe are also really irrelevant. It has been and can still be a fun time of ‘letting loose’ for kids and adults and needn’t be demonised or suppressed. Christians who attack it and want it suppressed are over-reacting, and the so-called testimonies and evidences of satanic ritual, including child sacrifice, are in large part fabrications. Even if satanists do such things, they have no direct bearing on what Halloween means in the folk tradition sense.

    I’m not speaking through my hat. I have done the research. I don’t see the majority of Halloween activities as being harmful, and only those who are already interested in the so-called occult will be find more of the same, without being driven to it by this harmless ‘holiday.’ But I have seen an over-zealous pentecostalized wife bully and guilt-trip her husband and kids to death over the issue of Halloween, which makes all the stories of pagan rituals sound rather hollow.

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