Hallowe'en in links
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Date: 26 October
'Many Christians are uncomfortable with
celebrating Hallowe'en and believe that it celebrates evil.'
Hallowe'en beckons once again. Small children don rubber masks sold
by eager retailers. But what's it all about, and why should you
want to know? By Andrew Chapman
First, the facts. The name Hallowe'en, with or
without apostrophe, is a contraction of All Hallows Eve.
derives from the Old
English word halig, meaning holy - thus All Hallows Day itself
is in fact All Saints Day.
All Saints Day was originally
celebrated on May 13th, a celebration in memory of all Christian
This is still celebrated by Rome, but Pope Gregory IV in
835AD created a new
All Saints Day on November 1st. The Catholic church also celebrates All
Souls Day on November 2nd.
Why November 1st? For the ancient Celts, this
date marked their new year, as well as the onset of winter.
night before, they celebrated the festival of Samhain,
Lord of the Dead - for which people would wear masks and light bonfires
to drive away the spirits of the dead, which on that night were
believed to mingle with those of the living. Even 'trick
or treat' is believed to date this far back.
The Celtic festival eventually merged with two
Roman ones, one in celebration of harvest and the goddess Pomona
- and believed to be the origin of 'apple-bobbing'.
Other Halloween traditions, such as carving
pumpkins (originally turnips) and making a Jack
o'Lantern come from Ireland.
Thus what we know as Halloween,
although its name derives from a Christian festival, has a long
tradition uniting various Western cultures.
Many Christians are uncomfortable
with celebrating Halloween and believe that it celebrates evil.
Some have attempted to reappropriate October 31st as Reformation
Day - it was on this day, in 1517, that Martin Luther nailed
theses to a door in Wittenberg, Germany.
Others have attempted
to find a compromise and approach
Halloween from a Christian perspective.