Jen´s Research and Letter to Nancy (the fundy aunt)
by Jen Hörst
This is a letter Jen wrote to her fundy aunt in the
states, they had a little tissy about the origins of halloween,
and whether or not is is satanic.
You probably won't believe this, but after talking to you I decided to
research the history of Halloween. I’m going to tell you my findings. If
you choose to not read this, fine. I feel better at least having tried to
let you know the TRUE origins of this holiday which you think is satanic.
The first evidence of a Halloween, All Hallows Eve, or Samhain begins
back long before the rise of the Roman Empire and the birth of Christ.
Historical estimates place this holiday at about the year 4000 BCE. It began
as the tribal peoples of this time split the year in half the only way they
knew how, by season. In the spring around May Day, the people celebrated
Beltane. This is the light half of the year. The sun has warmed the earth
and given birth to vegetation. The domestic animals are sent out to pasture.
The second part of the year is when the people brought their animals out of
the fields and began preparing for the earth’s sleep.
Much of our Halloween tradition began in the Celtic mythos. The Celts
are believed to be a very ancient race and the first of the large-scale
migrants who dispersed in separate waves into Europe at about 2300 BCE. In
approximately 350 BCE, the Celtic invasion introduced a new cultural strain
to Ireland and Britain. The Celts are a sub-family of the Indo-European
family. They are pastoral, meaning that they raise animals. They have a
religion which includes a harvest festival. This festival lasts for three
days. This holiday is the Celtic New Year. Samhain is a Celtic festival
where they celebrate the dead and divine for the future.
The word Samhain has been misunderstood. There is no evidence
(archeological or literary) which points to Samhain being linked to a Celtic
or Druid god named Samhain. The Irish didn’t have a lord of the dead in
their belief system. The Scottish-Gaelic dictionary tells us that Samhain
means “summer’s end.”
Keep in mind that the Celts also didn’t have what we would think of as a
Heaven. The concept of demons and devils is a modern one, and not part of
the Celtic religion. They did believe in fairy folk, whom they thought were
resentful of human kind for overtaking their land and forcing the fairies to
inhabit the in-between land. Some of these fairies were said to roam the
countryside and creating mischief.
Now we stop by ancient Rome. The Romans also had a harvest festival
called Pomona, celebrated on November 1. Pomona was the goddess of the
orchards and harvest. The Romans introduced this festival to the Celtic
people. Since it was similar to Samhain, the Celts didn’t have much trouble
blending the two
Around 200 years later (314 CE), Constantine the Great declared the Roman
Empire a Christian one, closing the door on the Celtic religion. In Europe,
the Romans systematically murdered the Druid priests and priestesses, seeing
them as a stumbling block to the Roman order of things.
By the fourth and fifth centuries, Celtic Christianity came into Ireland.
At first the Pagan peoples openly welcomed Christianity (as they welcomed
the beliefs of other people), but as Christianity filtered into the Celtic
system, the church officials had a few problems. Mainly that the Celts
didn’t want to give up their holiday or folk practices. So the Christian
leaders tried to change the holidays. Germanic Yule became Christmas
(December 25th is actually the birthday of the Pagan god Mithra, a solar
deity, in fact the Christmas tree, Yule log, and many other traditions linked
to this holiday are really of Pagan origin...perhaps they are “satanic” too
Nancy. Maybe you should throw out that satanic Christmas tree.), Celtic
Oimelc or Ostara to Easter (yup, that’s right, the Easter Bunny and hiding
eggs is a celebration of the Pagan fertility goddess Ostara) and Samhain into
All Hallows Eve.
To make the Pagans follow this new religion, the clergy of the day taught
the peasants that the fairies were really demons and devils (remember this
was a concept totally unknown to them prior to this) and that the dead that
they loved and remembered on this day were horrid ghosts and ghouls. The
early Christians erroneously associated the Celtic land of the dead with the
Christian concept of hell. Here is where the evil enters into Halloween.
The Celts don’t believe in a being that is the cause of all evil. They
believe that there is good and bad in all things, including people. The
origins of Satan being associated with Halloween are strictly the early
So as you can see. There are many different influences on what we see as
Halloween today. It really is merely a harvest festival. It is a time to
remember those loved ones who have passed and to celebrate the fruitful
harvest. It is also the time to prepare for the coming winter. We light the
fires and dance and laugh. In the original holiday there were no demons,
monsters, devils, ghosts, etc. In the current
day Wiccan tradition, Halloween is the time to have what is called a “dumb
supper.” This is where you set the table for your guests and include place
settings for your loved ones who have passed on. It is traditional to
prepare some favorite dishes of your dead friends and loved ones. During
this dinner no one is to speak.
Everyone just eats and honors the dead.
From my research, the tradition of getting dressed up began in early
America during the Victorian age. During this time people would have
masquerade balls. They also would use this time of year for match making.
So as time went on, Halloween was associated more with the young than with
the married. There
is a myth out there that people dressed up to “hide” from those who had died
in fear that the dead would find them and hurt them or haunt them. To the
contrary, the early Celts believed that the departed loved ones would help
them. And that in helping them, the dead would get “brownie points” in the
I have further resources on where the Jack-o-lantern came from and other
things, but I think you get the idea. Perhaps when someone tells you
something you could actually research it, rather than just take one groups
opinion of it. I find that Halloween is a joyous and frolicking time of
year. My most favorite time of year. We can get dressed up as someone we
are not, play games and socialize with those that we love. Sure there are
people out there who are ignorant who use it as some kind of evil holiday,
but they are the minority...and remember that conversation we had about
judging a whole thing over what the few do. If I was to do that, I would
think that Christians are all hypocrites, which I know is not true...but
some out there. I just choose to not judge the WHOLE of Christianity on a
few people. As should you.