Skip to comments.History of Halloween
Posted on 10/27/2010 2:36:10 PM PDT by NYer
HISTORY OF HALLOWEEN
Halloween (Allhallows Even) is the evening of October 31. In its strictly religious aspect this occasion is known as the vigil of Hallowmas or All Saints’ Day, November 1, observed by the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches. In the fourth decade of the 8th century, Pope Gregory III moved this holiday to this date (from May 13) for celebrating the feast when he consecrated a chapel in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome to all the saints. Later, Gregory IV extended the feast to the entire church in 834. In Latin countries the evening of October 31 is observed only as a religious occasion, but in Great Britain, Ireland, and the United States, ancient Halloween folk customs persist alongside the ecclesiastical observance.
Halloween is the second most popular holiday in the U.S. after Christmas, at least according to retailers. Not only are candy and costumes popular purchases, but increasingly, houses are being decorated with “Halloween lights.” Parties are popular and are increasingly being celebrated the weekend before. In Boston, for example, Salem is a popular location for these with its month-long Haunted Happenings celebrations — due to the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 — and the Massachusetts Turnpike traffic signs point out that Salem can be reached from Boston via Route 1A North. I’ve seen young people in Tokyo dress up in western-style costumes during Halloween, especially in the Harajuku district along the shopping area on Takeshita-dori Street.
Students of folklore believe that the popular customs of Halloween show traces of the Roman harvest festival of Pomona and of Celtic Druidism. These influences are inferred from the use of nuts and apples as traditional Halloween foods and from the figures of witches, black cats, and skeletons commonly associated with the occasion.
In pre-Christian Ireland and Scotland, the Celtic year ended on October 31, the eve of Samhain, and was celebrated with both religious and harvest rites. For the Druids, Samhain (pronounced: SOWin) was both the “end of summer” and a festival of the dead. The spirits of the departed were believed to visit their kinsmen in search of warmth and good cheer as winter approached. It was also an occasion when fairies, witches, and goblins terrified the populace. The agents of the supernatural were alleged to steal infants, destroy crops, and kill farm animals. Bonfires were lighted on hilltops on the eve of Samhain. The fires may have been lighted to in the belief of guiding the spirits of the dead to the homes of their kinsmen or to kill and ward off witches. In the City Center of modern day Dublin one can find signs advertising “Samhain Halloween” parties. Samhain is also the name for November in the modern Scots Gaelic and Irish languages.
During the Middle Ages when the common folk believed that witchcraft was devoted to the worship of Satan, this cult included periodic meetings, known as Witches’ Sabbaths, which were allegedly given over to feasting and revelry. One of the most important Sabbaths was held on Halloween. Witches were alleged to fly to these meetings on broomsticks, accompanied by black cats who were their constant companions. Stories of these Sabbaths are the source of much folklore about Halloween.
In 17th century Puritan New England the celebration of Halloween was banned, along with any special celebration of Christmas and Easter, though Catholic Maryland and Anglican Virginia retained some Halloween customs. During 19th century Victorian times, Halloween was generally tame and devoid of occult overtones. Instead of pulling pranks or haunting neighborhoods, young people chatted and flirted in festooned parlors.
By the early part of the 20th century Halloween became almost a civic affair with block parties and parades. Pranks and mischief were common on Halloween. Wandering groups of celebrants blocked doors of houses with carts, carried away gates and plows, tapped on windows, threw vegetables at doors, and covered chimneys with turf so that smoke could not escape. In some places boys and girls dressed in clothing of the opposite sex and, wearing masks, visited neighbors to play tricks. These activities generally resembled the harmful and mischievous behavior attributed to witches, fairies, and goblins.
The contemporary “trick or treat” custom resembles an ancient Irish practice associated with Allhallows Eve. Groups of peasants went from house to house demanding food and other gifts in preparation for the evening’s festivities. Prosperity was assured for liberal donors and threats were made against stingy ones. These contributions were often demanded in the name of Muck Olla, an early Druid deity, or of St. Columb Cille, “dove of the Church” (also known as St. Colomba) who was an Irish missionary to Scotland during the 6th century. In England some of the folk attributes of Halloween were assimilated by Guy Fawkes day celebrated on November 5. Consequently Halloween lost some of its importance there.
Immigrants from Great Britain and Ireland brought secular Halloween customs to the U.S., but the festival did not become popular in this country until the latter part of the 19th century. This may have been because it had long been popular with the Irish, who migrated here in large numbers after 1840. In America, though some churches observe Halloween with religious services, many people regard it as a secular festival. Other Protestant churches celebrate it as Reformation Day in commemoration of the date of October 31 in 1517 when Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the northern wooden door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.
Typical Roman Catholic syncretism-
The modern celebrations of Christmas (the northern European tradition that replaced older pagan Yule holidays), Easter (the eastern European tradition with incorporated spring fertility rites), and Halloween are all examples of Christian/pagan syncretism, as some symbols and traditions are re-incorporated into a Christian context.
Instead of changing the pagans-just co-op them. Little bit of this little bit of that.
There was also beggars/ragamuffin day, the day before Thanksgiving where kids would go door to door and “beg” (get “gifts”) such as turnips, potatos, bread etc which would end up on the thanksgiving table.
This was my dads childhood (he’s 85)
Um, “Easter” is the name only in the English and Germanic contexts. In most places, it’s a variation of the word “Pascha” which means “Passover.” The feast of Our Lord’s Resurrection, as you may have noticed, is tied to Passover.
The demons, evil men, druids, those into occult/satanists would go door to door looking for someone to kidnap and kill for their blood sacrifice that was done by bonfire (a big BONE fire!). The good people in their homes would offer things to them in hope they would go away such as sweets etc.
The Catholic Church did a great job baptizing pagan cultures.
No, typical screwy history.
Like Pyro said, Easter is called "Pascha" = Passover in Mediterranean countries. Read the history of the Quartodeciman controversy and you'll see that the date of the feast was derived directly from the Passover date (either the same day or the following Sunday)
The feast of Christmas is first solidly attested in the Chronography of 354--The Germanic peoples were only just barely starting to be Christianized then, and in any case, no one in the wider Roman world would have cared a fig for their Yule. The better argument is that Christmas was based on the Mithraic feast of the Unconquerable [Sun] on Dec. 25, but even that is questionable because the Roman cult of Mithras postdates Christianity, and we really have no idea who had this date first.
As for Halloween, the most ancient liturgical calendars from Ireland have the feast of All Saints on April 20. It was actually in Rome that the November 1st date got started--to commemorate the dedication of a church. This date didn't spread to Ireland until later, so the idea that it was started as an attempt to coopt Samhain is specious.
In any case, it's really foolish to knee-jerk call a feast "syncretism" just because it was prompted by a pre-existing custom. In 1955, Pius XII counteracted the Communist "May Day" with the "Feast of St. Joseph the Worker". Was there something wrong with that? I sure can't see it.
>> In most places, its a variation of the word Pascha which means Passover.<<
Actually Easter predates Passover. The celebration of that day started with Semeramis and her illegitimate son Tammuz. Semeramis was the wife of Nimrod.
The word Easter is derived from goddes Astarte who Semeramis claimed she was.
Thank you Alexander Hislop. Do you think the Jews got Passover from the Babylonians? The Bible says God commanded it.
The word Easter is derived from goddes Astarte who Semeramis claimed she was.
Care to explain why the English and Dutch would be naming things after Babylonian goddesses? They weren't Babylonians; they weren't even Semites. (If you want to look for pagan influences on their culture, they'd come more from India via the Indo-European Germans and Celts, than from a Semitic culture like Babylon.)
Nobody between Holland and Babylon knew or cared anything about "Easter" or "Astarte". Did this alleged Babylonian influence just blow into England on the wind?
It kind of blows a big hole in Hislop's foolishness when we point out that Rome -- Papal Rome -- doesn't call Easter, "Easter," or any word related to it, but either "Pascha" (from the Hebrew through the Greek) or "Dominica Resurrectionis", the "Lord's Day of the Resurrection". So much for that "Babylonian" influence.
Throw away your Hislop. It's full of errors, loaded with falsehoods, and some of the dumbest malarkey ever packed between two covers.
The longevity of lies/fiction is amazing.
I’ll give you a start but you can do a little research so that next time you can better know your subject matter.
Tammuz, ancient nature deity worshiped in Babylonia. A god of agriculture and flocks, he personified the creative powers of spring. He was loved by the fertility goddess Ishtar, who, according to one legend, was so grief-stricken at his death that she contrived to enter the underworld to get him back. According to another legend, she killed him and later restored him to life. These legends and his festival, commemorating the yearly death and rebirth of vegetation, corresponded to the festivals of the Phoenician and Greek Adonis and of the Phrygian Attis. The Sumerian name of Tammuz was Dumuzi. In the Bible his disappearance is mourned by the women of Jerusalem (Ezek. 8.14).
The setting of different dates for Easter from year to year is explained thus, in Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol. 2, page 682: “The present variable time was appointed by early Romanism in amalgamation with the very ancient pagan spring festival to the goddess of spring. It was fixed on the Sunday immediately following the 14th day of the paschal moon which happened on or first after the vernal equinox.” Please note Col. 2:16, “Let no man judge you in meat or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath.”
The Babylonian “queen of heaven,” Semeramis, the wife of Nimrod, was the original impersonation of the heathen goddesses, Astarte and Venus of the Greeks, Juno, of the Latins, Ashtoreth, of the Zidonians, Ishtar of the Babylonians, and Eostre, the goddess of spring, of the early Anglo-Saxons.
Semeramis was the wife of Nimrod who was the great grandson of Noah so you can see when it really started.
>> Care to explain why the English and Dutch would be naming things after Babylonian goddesses?<<
Sure, this may help.
The historian Edward Gibbon records that the Apostolic church “united the law of Moses with the teachings of Jesus Christ” (The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chap. 15). The early church fled from Jerusalem when the Romans destroyed the city in 70AD. After languishing for over 60 years in Pella, “a considerable part of the congregation renounced the Mosaic law” which the church had observed for over a century (ibid.). This was done not to obey God, but to gain admission to the new Roman colony that Hadrian established at Jerusalem, which forbade admission to Jews (or to those whose religious practices would make them appear Jewish). Gibbon indicates that a major part of the early Jerusalem church compromised their beliefs in order to cement their union with the emerging universal Christian church (ibid.).
This sentiment against anything that appeared to be Jewish continued to build throughout the first several centuries of the New Testament church era. Under the influence of the Apostle John, the churches in Asia Minor continued to observe the Passover on the 14th of Nisan, while churches in the western part of the Roman Empire began to observe Easter.
We read of an encounter (in 159AD) between Polycarp (the Bishop of Smyrna and a disciple of John) and Anicetus (the Bishop of Rome), in which Polycarp argued successfully against dropping the Passover observance on the 14th of Nisan in favor of Easter. However, about 40 years later, Victor, the bishop of Rome, excommunicated Polycrates, a leader of the church in Asia Minor (and a disciple of Polycarp) for refusing to go along with Easter observancewhich was becoming the accepted custom in Christendom. At the time of Polycrates (about 200AD), the churches in Asia Minor were the only ones still keeping the Passover on the 14th of Nisan instead of Easter. They did so because they were taught to do this by the Apostle John, who had been trained by Jesus Christ. This debate over keeping Passover on the 14th of Nisan or observing Easter is called the Quartodecimian controversy. It was finally settled by the Roman Emperor Constantine at the Council of Nicaea in 325AD when it was decreed that the Christian world would keep Easter and “that none should hereafter follow the blindness of the Jews” (Encyclopædia Britannica 11th ed., Easter). However, remnants of the Apostolic Church that kept the Holy Days continued to exist on the fringes of the Roman Empirebut these Christians, though faithful to Apostolic Christianity, were branded as heretics.
The lesson of history is that a church council, presided over by a sun-worshipping Roman emperor who was converted to nominal Christianity on his deathbed, simply overruled the Scripture and disregarded the clear example and teachings of Jesus Christ and the historical record of the Apostles.
That source you are quoting is flat-out misrepresenting the Quartodeciman controversy. Read the primary source account in Eusebius.
Now answer me this. If the folks who kept Easter on Sunday were so all-fired bad, they why the heck did the great Polycarp keep communion with them?? Is this normal behavior with heretics, idolaters and apostates??
No, it isn’t. Because what your little source there completely fails to state is that the two sides, though differing on the *date* of Easter, both thought of each other as *within the same Church*. It was a difference in *custom*, not a difference in *theology*.
Oh, and while we're at it, Astarte was not Greek at all she was Phoenician. And Venus was not Greek, she was Roman, like Juno. So which exactly was the Roman "Queen of Heaven"--Venus, or Juno? The Greek equivalents would be Aphrodite and Hera. Seems your source is a bit confused.
This fetish of tracing every pagan deity to Babylon is nonsense, and there isn't a shred of historical evidence to support it. Roman paganism grew up in Italy as a complex mix of Indo-European (Latins, Oscans, Umbrians) and other elements (Etruscans). They had their own pagan traditions and certainly did not need any help from the Babylonians to populate their pantheon.
And when the Romans later borrowed gods/goddesses, they tended to borrow their names as well. So Persian Mithras becomes Roman Mithras. Egyptian Isis becomes Roman Isis. That the names of Venus and Juno are very distinct from Semiramis ought to be a clue that it was not a borrowing.