Is there any “holy” left in All Hallow’s Eve? I was recently asked to write on this topic. Read the whole article here.
If you step into Walgreens or Target in October, one thing becomes crystal clear: we are about to be swept away in a storm of holiday decorations and candy. From Halloween to Christmas, and everything in between, it can all be a bit overwhelming. What do we really honor and celebrate? Are these truly “holy days” (as the word “holiday” suggests) or pure materialism?
Most of the holidays we celebrate today—including Halloween, Christmas, and Easter—have complicated pasts, rooted in ancient times. Take Christmas for example. Long before Jesus was born, the ancient (northern) world celebrated the coming of light into darkness at the winter solstice: December 21st. When Christians made a “holy day” commemorating the birth of Jesus—the true Light coming into the world—this pre-existing holiday season was the perfect time for the “Christ-Mass.” (Spoiler alert: Jesus wasn’t actually born in December).
Easter carries a similar history. The word “Easter” comes from the name of a pagan earth goddess who was celebrated in early spring when the dead world sprang into new life. This time, the early Christians had both historical dates and long-standing tradition on their side: Jesus was indeed crucified and raised from death during the springtime, ushering Creation to new life alongside the lambs and tulips. (Nicely played, God!)
Halloween is no different. Agricultural societies throughout the ancient world observed the sun “dying,” the short, chilly days, the long, dark nights, the withering plants and leafless trees. The season of fall palpably reflected death and dying, and nearly all cultures commemorated this important season by memorializing death, speculating on the afterlife, remembering and honoring beloved family members who had gone before.
Fast forward to the Christian era. When the church instituted a festival honoring the saints and martyrs, they naturally scheduled it during the season that honored the dead: All Saints’ Day, November 1. The night before (October 31) was called “All Hallows’ Eve” … now nicknamed “Halloween.”
You can read the rest of the article here!