The Halloween season often stirs a great dichotomy of emotions in the Christian community. The joyful play of children gleefully collecting treats dressed as superheroes and dinosaurs and the unease of the holiday’s allegedly dark origins.
Halloween has been regarded as one of the most controversial holidays due to popular history which accounts it as a Pagan tradition. However, new extensively sourced research claims the exact opposite; that Halloween was, in fact, a Christian tradition.
Halloween according to Business Insider has origins that trace back to Europe 2,000 years ago. Typical research claims people celebrated the souls of the dead and fended off ghosts with evil intentions. They further claim to have Pagan and Wiccan origins, however, emerging research opposes this popular view.
In the church’s early days, death was a common part of the Christian experience. Having lost so many trailblazers in the faith as martyrs they were not shy about death itself. It was embraced as a part of the journey towards eternity with Jesus. Rather, research claims the holiday was to honor the lives of Martyrs for Christ.
Throughout history, a common day to celebrate all saints has existed for centuries called “All Saints Day.” A day to commemorate the lost lives in the faith. Today, All Saints Day falls on November 1st. According to The Federalist, the holiday is spent with churches remembering faithful Christians who have given their lives and spending quality time with family and loved ones.
Now, what does All Saints Day, November 1st have to do with Halloween October 31st?
Halloween means “All Hallows Eve.” All Saints Day is also known as “All Hallows Day.” Throughout the Old Testament, the celebration feast begins at sunset, which is why we celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Halloween or “All Hallows Eve” is meant to mark the eve of “All Hallows Day.” These historical studies claim this has nothing to do with Paganism in any way.
The day itself is filled with church, remembering faithful Christians who have gone before us into heaven and are sorely missed, and spending time with loved ones who surround us in this life. The trick or treating that we still see today goes back to when children in medieval Europe (1300-1500) went door to door, asking for food or other gifts in exchange for prayer.
The earliest existing record shows a document written in the 2nd century describing what some call All Saints Day. “There whenever we can gather together in joy and happiness, the Lord will allow us to commemorate the birthday of His martyrdom, both in memory of those who have already engaged in the struggle and as a training and preparation for those who are about to do so,” it says.
Many groups claim ownership of Halloween from the Wiccans to Pagans to the Celtic tradition of Samhain. However, when vetting the oldest records of the celebration of the dead, we may be surprised to learn it has everything to do with the Christian church. The Federalist has this to say regarding the international reach of the holiday: “Worldwide, many cultures celebrate alongside All Hallows, with remembrances of their loved ones gone before. Dia de Muertos in Mexico pulls in some similar themes of remembering the dead, also with no ties to Samhain. Todos los Santos (All Saints) in the Philippines brings together families to remember their loved ones, too.”
In beyond the trick-or-treating and pumpkin carving, there’s a rich history of Halloween we should explore as Christians.