Samhain to Halloween

Depending on what side of the fence you’re on (if you are even near or on the fence at all) Halloween may hold different meanings.

Where does it come from?

Halloween seems to have originated as the Pagan celebration of Samhain, which is the harvest season and the reign of the winter (dead season) gods. Other than traditional spiritual rituals, which may involve dressing in celestial robes or nothing at all, and celebrating nature there is little similarities between the ancient beliefs and todays modern practices. It is a time when the end of summer is embraced while the living mingle with the spirits of the dead.

The celebration has nothing to do with the legend of Jack o’ the Lantern, either. The word ‘Samhain’ has been used to name the figure that often represents the story of ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’, or the like, where a character uses a Jack o’ Lantern for its head. This is a modern icon, nothing more.

All Saints Day, itself, was created by christians – not pagans. It is celebrated as ‘All Hallows Eve’, ‘All Souls Day’ and ‘Halloween’. The christian holiday was meant to coincide with the pagan festivities in order to form both into a solid christian tradition. Pope Gregory III spearheaded this idea, obviously thinking ‘if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em’.

Current Discussion:

Halloween, by todays practices, is an entertaining community holiday. It is not recognized as a federal holiday in the U.S., though the idea of the separation of church and state would make one question the formation of a federal holiday from a christian holiday (ever think we will get federally mandated time off for Ramadan or Hannakuh?). There are still many groups that recognize it as a religously-based holiday. Some of those groups are even pushing to have the celebrations removed from schools under the laws separating church and state.

Unfortunately this holiday has also taken a more sinister turn, one which is seen far more publicly than should be. In modern times, it seems, Satanic occultists have taken the once benign holiday as a day that lawlessness reigns and sacrifices should be made to the lord of Hell. This has nothing to do with what Samhain is about.

In the end Halloween is what we make it out to be. It’s a day of ‘trick or treating’ or it’s a day to celebrate the end of summer. Perhaps it’s both. It’s a chance to have a good time in either case.

All Saints
History of Halloween : Myths, Monsters and Devils
History of the Jack O’Lantern