As our children get ready to go "Trick-or-Treating" let us learn a little about the day "Halloween." Therefore , we will take a look at a pagan holiday, that changed because of Christianity, and thus became a Holy Day that is still observed in some Denominations still today!
Therefore we will look at a ancient pagan ritual, that is still practiced today. It's original name was "Samhain," however we know it as "Halloween."
"Samhain" began at sundown on October 31st and extended into the following day. According to the Celtic pagan religion, known as Druidism, the spirits of those who had died roamed the earth on "Samhain" evening. This night was much feared by the Celtic people, and they sought to ward off the spirits with offerings of food and drink.
The dark side of this event was the fact that the Celts built bonfires, at so called sacred sights, and sometimes preformed rituals involving HUMAN and/or Animal Sacrifices, to honor Druid gods. Samhain was abandoned only when the people converted to Christianity during the very early middle ages.
Now during that period of time the Church often incorporated modified versions of ancient pagan rituals in order to win converts. For example, Pope Gregory IV successfully replaced "Samhain" with All Saints Day, which fell on November 1, thus the evening of October 31 became known as All Hallows' Even, which was later shortened to Halloween. All Souls Day, as it is known as today, is a Holy Day in the Roman Catholic, and Anglican Churches, honoring those who have passed away.
Some aspects of this ancient pagan tradition thought to be incompatible with Christianity, were linked with folk beliefs about evil spirits. In British folklore, small magical fairies became associated with Halloween mischief. The jack-o-lantern, originally carved from a turnip, originated in medieval Scotland. A small candle would be put into the turnip, that had a scary face carved on it. This was to be lit at night and displayed to scare off evil spirits which they feared roamed about that night.
Between the 15th & 17th Centuries, Europe was seized by a hysterical fear of witches, who were thought to ride flying brooms and to assume the form of black cats. Thus the images of witches and black cats soon joined other European superstitions as symbols of Halloween.
In the 19th & early 20th Centuries, young people often observed Halloween by perpetrating minor acts of vandalism, such as overturning sheds or breaking windows. Beginning in the 1930's, Halloween mischief gradually transformed into the modern ritual of trick-or-treating, though some still choose to perform acts of vandalism on Halloween still today.
A final note, is the fact that Halloween is the high holy day of the satanic church. So it still bears a very dark side indeed, even today!
References: ( Encarta Reference Library 2008, and the Encyclopedia Britannica 2006. )