Friday, October 10, 2008

The Church and Halloween

Last time we discussed the Celtic predecessor to Halloween. These celebrations continued until the occupation by the Roman empire in the third-first centuries B.C. The popularization of Christianity lead to heavy cultural changes in the Celtic region.

The Church had developed an ingenious method of converting other cultural groups. Rather than making them give up their own holidays to adopt Christian ones, they merely replaced the old holiday with a new one on the same date. This very thing happened with Samhain.

The new holiday began on November 1 and was a celebration of the Saints, known as All-hallows or All Saints Day. The night before continued to be celebrated with many of the same rituals as before, and was known as All-hallows Eve (and eventually Halloween). Later on, the holiday All Souls Day was established on November 2 as a recognition of the dead. These three holidays were honored by varying traditions.

What ultimately happened with Halloween is much the same as what happened with other holidays established by the Church. The new Church-sanctioned holiday was celebrated with a mixture of old customs and new ones. Thus Halloween became a mixture of saint-veneration and a respect and fear for the dead.

Next, we'll need to see how the traditions changed and were practiced in the European world after the establishment of all three holidays in the 11th century A.D.

Part One: The Origins of Halloween

Utah State

P.S. Never miss an installment of this blog. Enter your email address on the right. Also, vote in the new poll to help my planning.


  1. I have nothing to add or say. I simply wanted you to know I read your blog today. :0)

    A Hoosier Family-
    Assembly of God Blogs-

  2. Interesting..! Halloween is definitely my favorite non-Jesus holiday.


Please keep all comments civil, and avoid irrelevant advertising.

Posts on specific topics: