Redeeming Holy Days from Pagan Lies — Hallowe’en: A short history

October 25th, 2013 Post by

Responding to some of the comments that came in when we last published this post in Oct of 2012, we are attempting to come up with an updated version of this post. We thought it important though to catch those who read us during the week to have this information quickly. We anticipate an updated version to be posted this weekend, so look for an update on Monday!
Resources on Halloween pt. 1 is up, and provides primary source documentation for the origin of All Saints’ Day, The Celtic Calendar, Samhain, and the creative interpretations of the early Folklorists.

Here’s a repeat of our posting on Halloween from 2012:

 

There is a lot of new mythology about Halloween that has been invented to claim that Halloween is a pagan holiday. It is not, and it never was a pagan holiday.

 

Where Did Halloween Start in the Christian Church?

In the first three centuries after Christ’s resurrection, the lives of the martyrs of the Church were commemorated on the day and in the place where they were killed.

There were so many who were killed because of their faith in Christ during those centuries. Throughout the Christian Church different days were set aside not only for each martyr, but a special day for all Saints.

The earliest reference to a day being dedicated to the commemoration of All the Martyrs and All Saints of the Christian Church comes from the 2nd century. The document is titled “The Martyrdom of Polycarp.” Polycarp was a Christian killed because he would not deny Christ. The document says:

Accordingly, we afterwards took up his bones, as being more precious than the most exquisite jewels, and more purified than gold, and deposited them in a fitting place, whither, being gathered together, as opportunity is allowed us, with joy and rejoicing, the Lord shall grant us to celebrate the anniversary of his martyrdom, both in memory of those who have already finished their course, and for the exercising and preparation of those yet to walk in their steps. (Chapter 18) [Emphasis added]

Later, a Christian Bishop named Ephraim the Syrian mentions a common All Saints’ Day in 373. In 379 St. Basil of Caesarea chose a day when the churches of his bishopric would honor the memories of all Saints known, and unknown, alive or in heaven. Later, John Chrysostom mentions a common day of memorial for the Saints in 407 AD.

In the year 609 or 610 Pope Boniface IV established a date for All Saints’ Day on May 13th. And later, in the early 700s AD, Pope Gregory III changed the date to November 1st. Decrees like this took some time to propagate from Rome to the more remote areas where the Church was found. But the change in date had nothing to do with any pagan practices. Pope Gregory IV extended the celebration on this day to the entire Western Church in the early 800s. And again, the change took time as it spread from Rome.

The point is this: a common day for commemorating the Saints has been around throughout the Christian Church from very early times. And the fact that it falls on November 1st today has nothing to do with paganism.

OK, so what does this have to do with Halloween? In the Bible the day begins at sundown or evening. This is why we have Christmas Eve. Halloween is All Hallows’ Eve‘, that is All Saints’ Evening. Halloween is the beginning of All Saints’ Day starting at sundown on October 31st.

These days we have “Trick or Treat,” costumes sometimes too gruesome to describe: witches, goblins, werewolves, vampires, zombies, Lady Gaga; Jack-O-Lanterns, skeletons, spooky sounds, grave stones, candy and a celebration of gore and all that is un-Holy.

Many of the Christian Churches in the Reformed traditions claim that Halloween is a pagan celebration. Very often they do this by referring to Neopagan and Wiccan writings. And there are many in the Neopagan and Wiccan communities who have tried hard to claim Halloween as an ancient pagan holiday that had been stolen by the Christian Church.

Don’t ever expect truth from Neopagans and Wiccans. They already live in a fantasy world created by their own fakelore.

The claim is that the old folklore demonstrates where we got Halloween. But folklore does not support the Neopagan or the Wiccan claims about Halloween. Instead they depend on fakelore: invented, and fake, pretend folklore, like Pecos Bill and the song “Follow the Drinking Gourd.”

The typical claims in current sources are that Halloween come from “ancient Celtic practices, Catholic and Roman religious rituals and European folk traditions.” With respect to the origins of All Saints’ Day these claim are false. With respect to the modern re-paganizing of Halloween, the Neopagan version of Halloween doesn’t really come from ancient pagan sources. It comes from modern sources that pretend to be old but are not. These modern sources are simply fiction.

 

Doesn’t Halloween Have Its Origins in Samhain?

Neopagans and Wiccans like to claim that the source of Halloween is the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced Sow-in). There are three basic problems with their claim.

  1. The celebration of All Saints’ Day didn’t originate in Ireland or any other area populated by Celts or their descendants.
  2. None of the days on which All Saints’ Day was celebrated had anything to do with any Celtic holiday.
  3. The celebration of All Saints’ Day in Celtic regions is documented to be older than the documented celebration of Samhain.

 

So let us look at each of these three claims:

  1. In order for the Neopagan and Wiccan claim that Samhain is the origin of Halloween to be true, then Halloween and All Saints’ Day should have started in Celtic areas. But we’ve already seen that All Saints’ Day was celebrated in Syria as early as 373 A.D, in Caesarea in 397 A.D., and in Constantinople (under Chrysostom—modern Istanbul) by 407 A.D.All Saints’ Day, and Halloween didn’t start in the Celtic countries. But it did take some time for the declarations of Rome to reach distant Celtic areas like Ireland.
  2. In order for the Neopagan and Wiccan claim that Samhain is the origin of Halloween to be true the particular day chosen should have some significance to the Celts and Samhain. But here we run into some serious problems. According to the best sources, Samhain was a Lunar festival of harvest. That means that the day of Samhain can vary up to a month in difference from any Solar year day. Compare, for example, the wide variety of days upon which Easter can take place. When sources claim that Samhain was October 31 to November 1 in the modern Solar Calendar they are being dishonest and disingenuous. They are intendingto deceive the reader. Due to the differences between lunar and solar dates, on the average Samhain would take place exactly on October 31st only once in about every 30 years.When the reader adds into this the fact that the Western Calendar changed over from the Julian to the Gregorian at different times in different places, the reader can better understand how artificial the Neopagan and Wiccan claims are about Samhain. The Christian Church didn’t get Halloween/All Saints’ Day from the pagans, the pagans are trying to claim that Christians stole from them. But the Neopagans and Wiccans cannot even get their calendars straight. And they are hoping that the reader doesn’t notice how weak and embarrassing their claim is.
  3. In order for the Neopagan and Wiccan claim that Samhain is the origin of Halloween to be true Samhain they should be able to prove that Samhain is older than All Saints’ Day.But, in fact, the opposite is true.We have a manuscript from 843 A.D. where the Irish Christian Bishop Óengus of Tallaght wrote about the celebration of All Saints’ Day. It was celebrated in the Spring of the year at that time and in that place. The Decree of Pope Gregory IV had still not reached Ireland so that All Saints’ Day should be celebrated November 1st.But the earliest-ever-mention of Samhain in Irish folklore doesn’t come until the 10th Century (Ronald Hutton’s 1996 book Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain). There is no mention of Samhain outside of Ireland until centuries later.

These, then, are the facts.

Samhain comes from the 10th Century A.D. and is a newer invention. All Saints’ day is older than Samhain. All Saints’ Day came from the practice of honoring the Christian Martyrs in Israel, Turkey, and Syria as early as the 2nd Century and later.

All Saints’ Day and therefore Halloween originated outside the Celtic sphere of influence and had nothing to do with what the Neopagan and Wiccan claims are about its origin.

In fact, the newer holiday, called Samhain, was a Lunar holiday. This means that it could be celebrated on any of 30 or so days in Autumn of a given year depending on when the harvest moon was recognized in Ireland. And very, very rarely did this moon happen on October 31st. This simple truth cannot be emphasized enough.

Any book or website or article that claims that the ancient Celts celebrated Samhain on October 31 is perpetrating a lie. Modern Neopagans and Wiccans invented their own calendar through the 1970s and 1980s and they chose Oct. 31 to be the day for Samhain. It was a move on their part to put forward the false claim that Halloween started in paganism.

Why Would the Non-Christians Want to Undermine This Holiday?

All Saints’ Eve (Halloween) and All Saints’ Day have a special place in the commemoration of the Christian Church because of the Reformation. It was on October 31st, Halloween, that Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the church at Wittenberg, Germany. It was on that date he chose to challenge the corruption in the official church about the notion that salvation in Christ could be bought with money or works. All Saints are saved by Grace, through Faith, revealed by God’s Word in Christ.

Halloween, October 31st is Reformation Day. On October 31, 1517 the Church of Christ began to return to the authority of Scripture alone over the traditions and will of man. It was the day that the Church began to return to salvation by Faith in Christ alone over the works of human will and deeds prescribed by humans. The day that the Church began to return to salvation by Grace alone, rather than the effort of the individual or that individual’s reliance upon the efforts of the saints who had gone before him. It was the day that the Church returned to reliance upon Christ alone and not upon self.

It should not be surprising that Satan and the World have gone to such extremes to defile Halloween with anything that would distract Christians and the unbelievers from Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia and Solus Christus ( Scripture Alone, Faith Alone,  Grace Alone, and Christ Alone).

 

Halloween Traditions:

In this world some traditions have become the mainstay of Halloween. Though these traditions are not necessarily a problem by themselves, they have been claimed by the Neopagans and Wiccans as evidence that Christianity is a fraud and newcomer that has replaced the “Older” so-called “Truth”. But they lie.

The Haunted House started in the early 1970s. The first records of Haunted Houses were from Cincinnati, Ohio where the Jaycees (Junior Chambers of Commerce) introduced the first Haunted Houses as a way to keep kids entertained on Halloween.

So which is older, All Saints Day starting in the 2nd Century or Haunted Houses starting in the 1970s?

Jack o’Lanterns are an American invention from the mid 1800s. Ireland and Britain had older traditions of carving vegetables into lanterns. But those traditions are not ancient. Historian David J. Skal writes:

Although every modern chronicle of the holiday[ of Halloween] repeats the claim that vegetable lanterns were a time-honored component of Halloween celebrations in the British Isles, none gives any primary documentation. In fact, none of the major nineteenth-century chronicles of British holidays and folk customs make any mention whatsoever of carved lanterns in connection with Halloween. Neither do any of the standard works of the early twentieth century.
(see this and other helpful references cited at The Scoopie)

It was in 1837 that the term “Jack o’ Lantern” first appeared as a term for a carved vegetable lantern. Previously the term referred to the man or boy a town hired to keep the street lamps lit through the night. The pumpkin was used with the cornucopia as a fruit that was displayed throughout fall harvest time in America as a sign of God’s providential blessing.

There is a lot of folklore about the Jack O’Lantern, but it is fakelore invented to create a fictional scary history for the Jack O’Lantern. But which is older? All Saints’ Day or the Jack O’Lantern?

Trick or Treating is very popular in America and several other countries. In the Middle Ages (1300s to 1500s or so) there was a practice where children or the poor would go from door to door to beg. In some places these beggars would sing or perform in order to get gifts of money or food from householders. While this happened every day of the year, because these beggars had to eat every day, they were particular active on holidays. Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, and All Saints’ Day were special days when children and adults would go from home to home singing hymns and carols and begging. A good source for what these people would sing is the Oxford Book of Carols.

In Shakespear’s 1593 play The Two Gentlemen of Verona the character Speed accuses his master of “puling [whimpering or whining] like a beggar at Hallowmas.” That’s our All Saints’ Day, November 1st.

Wearing costumes on Halloween is first known in Scotland in 1895 and in the United States in 1911. The earliest use ot the words “trick or treat” is from 1927 in the United States. In the early 20th Century there were thousands of postcards made with Halloween themes, but none of them showed “trick or treating” until the 1930s.

So what is older? All Saints’ Day or Trick or Treating?

Halloween, Reformation Day, All Saints’ Day is a very special day of the year for the Christian Church. We commemorate all saints past, present, and future with the confession that we cannot save ourselves with our own works, no price we could ever pay would be good enough. But Christ has paid for the whole world. And all believers in Christ, and these are the Saints, will be raised on the last day to eternal life. Reclaiming Halloween means knowing where it comes from, why the day was established, and the historical significance it holds for the Christian Church. Satan and the world are always willing to undermine and steal anything that is of value to the confession of the truth of Scripture. Let us not fall prey to the lies.

Enjoy Halloween! Enjoy Jack O’Lanterns, Enjoy Trick or Treating. But confess the truth!






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  1. Brandt
    October 25th, 2013 at 13:22 | #1

    CPH published a book by Alfred Rehwinkel back in 1951 that connected Halloween loosely with Noah’s flood. The claim is probably worth some more investigation to see if there really is a connection (if even possible to verify), but Rehwinkel basically surveyed death holidays through various world cultures and noted that a great many of them fall around the same time of the year (late October through mid-November). Interestingly, he then goes to Genesis and notes the date that the Flood began (17th Day of the 2nd month [assumes first month begins sometime in September]). The suggestion made by his argument, then, is that the Flood made its mark on the collective memory of the world, both in the fact that so many cultures had flood legends and also in an approximate date generally given to remembering the dead. If all of this holds together, whether one traces pagan or Christian origins of our modern Halloween, they all would all trace back to the Genesis Flood. See pp. 169-171 of THE FLOOD (CPH, 1951) for more information on this.

  2. JB
    October 25th, 2013 at 14:09 | #2

    It’s sad how many Lutherans cast aside their heritage because of myths propagated by the Protestants and Evangelicals. I’ve known so many that refuse to let their children wear costumes or trick or treat because it’s “Satanic”.

  3. Jais H. Tinglund
    October 25th, 2013 at 14:22 | #3

    The Danish equivalent of “trick or treating” is done on Monday before Ash Wednesday – it is done during the day, and there is no expectation that costumes be in any way scary …

  4. helen
    October 25th, 2013 at 16:36 | #4

    @JB #2
    It’s sad how many Lutherans cast aside their heritage because of myths propagated by the Protestants and Evangelicals.

    Going out as beggars [and maybe vandalizing property if you don't get what you want (or maybe even if you do)] is “our Lutheran heritage” now?

    Not mine.

    My children went trick or treating when they were young, earlier in the evening, but then we went to Reformation service. That is my “Lutheran heritage”.

  5. Jais H. Tinglund
    October 25th, 2013 at 18:17 | #5

    I suppose one might argue, with some right, that it is part of our Lutheran heritage not to be as terribly neurotic about being involved in secular celebrations as some would like Christians to be ….
    Besides that, you are absolutely right.

  6. helen
    October 25th, 2013 at 22:15 | #6

    @Jais H. Tinglund #5

    LOL!

    Once, when my boys were perhaps 7 & 5, I got a rare “day off” and used it to visit the Children’s Museum in Prospect Park. Among the wares in the gift dept. they had (paper mache’) Mexican devil masks… for the occasion under discussion. [I hesitate to call it a "holiday"!]
    So I bought two masks. Then I also bought bright red pajamas and braided thick hanks of yarn into red tails. Between the horns on the masks and the tails, we had some fearsome costumes that year!

    Now, is the charge of being “neurotic about being involved in secular celebrations” withdrawn? :)

  7. Jais Tinglund
    October 25th, 2013 at 22:28 | #7

    Truth be told , I wasn’t thinking of you – not even in jest – but rather of those I think JB was thinking of.

  8. Joel A Dusek
    October 25th, 2013 at 22:54 | #8

    Hi Helen,

    I believe “Dia de los Muertos” comes from the same recognition that All Saints Day does, although not remembering only martyrs it remembers all deceased family members.

    I think any devilish connection to Halloween or Dia de los Muertos is a secular introduction, hand in hand with the neo-pagan/Wiccan corruption mentioned in the article.

    God Bless!

  9. Tony Pittenger
    October 26th, 2013 at 09:36 | #9

    Thank you Joe! Hoping for something as succinct for Dec. 25!

  10. October 26th, 2013 at 20:53 | #10

    Tony, click on the topic Redeeming Holy Days on the right column. There are several articles relevant to Christmas. I will, God willing, have a couple more on topics I didn’t cover last year.

  11. Matthew Mills
    October 27th, 2013 at 23:01 | #11

    Would this be a bad time to mention the fine batch of “snicker-doodles de los Muertos*” I baked this evening to send to my kids at college?

    (*Skull-shaped snicker-doodles w/ anise seed instead of cinnamon in the sugar)

  12. JB
    October 28th, 2013 at 08:56 | #12

    @helen #4

    Not throwing away centuries of history and church festivals in favor of misguided revisionism is.

    @Jais H. Tinglund #5

    Bingo.

    @Jais Tinglund #7

    Thank you.

  13. Joel Dusek
    October 28th, 2013 at 15:57 | #13

    Señor Matéus Mills,

    ¡Muy Bién!

  14. Pastor A
    October 29th, 2013 at 13:23 | #14

    I appreciated this column it is insightful into the history of the various days addressed. The historical perspective is always helpful. I just wonder…If the truth is that “Halloween” (as our culture has come to understand it) is a much later trend and the real truth of these days centers in the Reformation and All Saints day. Then it would be more consistent to be shaped by that truth and more central to confessing the truth publicly that we actually celebrate Reformation Day and All Saints Day on the day they are to be commemorated. In that way we would be truly confessing the truth about these days and confessing the truth before the world. Makes me wonder when we started “observing” these days rather than just celebrating them.

  15. Jais H. Tinglund
    October 29th, 2013 at 14:19 | #15

    @Pastor A #14

    Pastor A :
    it would be more consistent to be shaped by that truth and more central to confessing the truth publicly that we actually celebrate Reformation Day and All Saints Day on the day they are to be commemorated.

    O, don’t we all long for the day …

  16. helen
    October 29th, 2013 at 16:51 | #16

    @Pastor A #14
    Makes me wonder when we started “observing” these days rather than just celebrating them.

    When the laity couldn’t get themselves to church midweek, or whenever the holiday fell. When schoolwork became so “heavy” that kids couldn’t be brought to church except maybe on Sunday [if they didn't have UIL or some other thing.] When the Christmas concert was deliberately scheduled for Wednesday in Advent, and parents didn’t rise up and vote out the school board which allowed it.

    [Meanwhile in Spring Branch ISD, Houston, Texas, ONE Jewish kid, backed by the ACLU, could get six high school graduations moved from Friday night, permanently!]

    (That “I” stands for “independent”!) :(

  17. October 29th, 2013 at 18:52 | #17

    @Pastor A #14
    Or worse, when in the ELCA, I had on more than one occasion discussions with pastors who thought we should not even observe the Reformation.

    “When the Festival of the Reformation shall come and shall wake no throb of joy in (the Church’s) bosom, her life will have fled. For if the Reformation lives through her, she also lives by it.”-Charles Porterfield Krauth, (1823-1863), The Conservative Reformation

  18. Jason
    October 30th, 2013 at 06:23 | #18

    @Pr. Mark Schroeder #17

    I can personally name at least one LC-MS pastor who is clueless about the liturgical calendar. We had some people from my last congregation visiting us this past Sunday. I made the snide comment, “Because we actually celebrate Reformation? I should pick on [the last congregation], but it’s so easy… ” I try to respect the OHM, but there are a few people in it that make it almost impossible.

  19. helen
    October 30th, 2013 at 10:11 | #19

    @Jason #18
    I try to respect the OHM, but there are a few people in it that make it almost impossible.

    Do not blame the Office for the few who shouldn’t be filling it… (or, not in the Lutheran church).
    Wasn’t it Luther who said, “The Sacrament is valid, though the priest be unworthy.” ?

    The “few” have been with us, always.

    Respect the Office and those who give it their best, knowing that they also can fail, some of the time! (They know it, too, and seek absolution.)

  20. Jason
    October 30th, 2013 at 10:24 | #20

    @helen #19

    That I do. Which is why I really wish this one guy I know would be bounced. He’s a Baptist Joel Osteen wanna-be. And because I respect the Office itself, I would not mind at all if the Lay Ministry stuff gets eliminated. And I am a district certified lay minister. I enjoyed the learning, and do wish to serve the church, but I will be first in line to vote for its discontinuation. We play so fast and loose with the Confessions, and Scripture, especially out east here.

    Which is kind of on topic. Here we have an actual Christian holiday, and the Devil and the world are trying to paganize it. Just like we have an Office of Holy Ministry, and the [insert name(s)] want to diminish and delude it. Sad.

  21. Dee
    October 30th, 2013 at 11:10 | #21

    Or…maybe we can lay aside man made holidays and look to The Lord for our celebrations. What a novel idea. So much in defense of a holiday that is obviously inundated with evil…just walk down the seasonal isle, it’s obvious. The Lord set out festivals and how many write articles and defend those holidays…very few Christians. Ridiculous the amount of articles of Christians trying to defend the practice of Halloween. And those that cry “Reformation day celebration” do so behind their witches costumes. Craziness. Pure craziness. Be not deceived.

  22. Jais H. Tinglund
    October 30th, 2013 at 12:42 | #22

    @Dee #21

    Dee :
    And those that cry “Reformation day celebration” do so behind their witches costumes.

    Is there any documentation for this claim?

  23. Matthew Mills
    October 30th, 2013 at 13:21 | #23

    @Dee #21
    It’s still better than the 4th of July. At least Halloween has Christian roots instead of being a bald-faced celebration of enlightenment liberalism and open rebellion against legitimate constituted authority for pecuniary gain.

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  24. Jais Tinglund
    October 30th, 2013 at 13:39 | #24

    Come, come, now, Mr. Mills, that is really not all that is celebrated on the 4th of July – even if it is part of the history behind it …

  25. Matthew Mills
    October 30th, 2013 at 14:46 | #25

    Mr. Tinglund,

    You aren’t suggesting that I could celebrate an innocent barbecue, remembering my 24 years of active service in the US Air Force, and drink a beer to the memory of the friends I lost during those years of service without fully embracing the ideology of the violent revolution that won the US its independence in the 18th Century are you? Why, if that were possible, perhaps our children could dress up in costumes and beg candy door-to-door on Oct 31st without being in league w/ Satan.

    I think you hit the nail on the head with your: “I suppose one might argue, with some right, that it is part of our Lutheran heritage not to be as terribly neurotic about being involved in secular celebrations as some would like Christians to be.”

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

    (I submitted this a bit ago, but it wasn’t showing up. Should two similar replies eventually make this page it can be attributed to my lack of patience.)

  26. Jais H. Tinglund
    October 30th, 2013 at 14:59 | #26

    @Matthew Mills #25
    I think that is pretty much what I am suggesting – with the consequences that go along with it.
    In addition to that, might I perhaps even be so bold as to suggest that you might also take the occasion as an opportunity to celebrate the providence of God steering the history of this fallen world according to His good and gracious will and bringing His good will about for His beloved, not only in spite of, but even *through* the misguided ideologies and actions of sinners?
    Cheers.

  27. Dee
    October 30th, 2013 at 16:48 | #27

    Jais H. Tinglund,
    My “proof” is in family and extended family, devout Lutherans….reformation day from behind witches costumes. Yes, definitely have seen this (first hand) by several family and their friends crying out “church” man-instituted holiday, all the while putting on their gore and witches outfits. But to ask them what or how many festivals of The Lord there are….huh? What’s that? Priorities. They know church doctrine but rarely open the Word of God. They know Reformation Day all the while dressing as witches which of course, the Bible speaks out against. It seems a lot of time and energy is spent trying to “Christianize” a day, when it is really only a man-made tradition/holiday anyway.

  28. Jais H. Tinglund
    October 30th, 2013 at 17:00 | #28

    @Dee #27
    I am sorry; I am afraid that I am not sufficiently familiar with your family and extended family to relate …

  29. Matthew Mills
    October 30th, 2013 at 17:17 | #29

    @Dee #27
    Cheers then!

  30. John
    October 31st, 2013 at 11:40 | #30

    @Brandt #1

    Perhaps there is a related connection. Here’s an article from the “Answers in Genesis” website that seems to make the same connection. In any case, can we ever trust a Roman Catholic Pope not to try to hijack a pagan day? Everywhere the RC church goes they meld the local traditions and push syncretism.

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/halloween/halloween-history?utm_source=aigsocial10292013halloween&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=facebooktwittergooglelinkedin

  31. Mason
    October 31st, 2013 at 15:02 | #31

    Wow, what a load of crazy propaganda! I have no problems with anyone’s faith. If it works for you, follow it, but this is just wild!
    Do people honestly think Neopagans “stole” Samhain from the church? After all the documented historical fact that the church moved it’s holidays to overshadow the pagan ones in Europe?

  32. Pr. Abrahamson
    October 31st, 2013 at 16:50 | #32

    Mason :
    Three ad hominems, one empty appeal to authority, one red herring, one over generalization, all wrapped up into a large post hoc ergo propter hoc,

    and all with no evidence.

    Logical fallacies are not a legitimate argument. Try to do better and be more honest. Obviously you have a problem with other people's faith that disagrees with yours. You also have a strong disagreement with what you think is historical fact. But none of what you said offers any counter evidence.

    If you like, you could start by producing counter evidence or correct the evidence given here:
    http://www.steadfastlutherans.org/?p=33364

    I would actually appreciate it if you could help find more primary sources.

  33. Ned Clark
    October 31st, 2013 at 17:30 | #33

    Does anybody fact-check these kinds of divisive, smug & self-justifying stories?

    (quote) “Don’t ever expect truth from Neopagans and Wiccans. They already live in a fantasy world created by their own fakelore.” … because your beliefs [folklore] are newer than (and therefore superior to) theirs?

    (quote) “The Haunted House started in the early 1970s. The first records of Haunted Houses were from Cincinnati, Ohio where the Jaycees (Junior Chambers of Commerce) introduced the first Haunted Houses as a way to keep kids entertained on Halloween.” … I’ve only been alive 55 years, but I clearly remember `Haunted Houses’ (albeit not the $$ commercial ones) in the early 1960’s…and my parents – both in their eighties – fondly recounted “Haunted Houses” that they visited- or participated in during their childhoods in the `30’s and `40s.

    (quote) “Wearing costumes on Halloween is first known in Scotland in 1895 and in the United States in 1911.” …The poem “Hallowe’en” by Joel Benton – published in Harper’s Weekly in 1896 makes clear that most of our current observances were already familiar- and longed-for nostalgically from even earlier times. http://www.everywritersresource.com/poemeveryday/2012/halloween-by-joel-benton-1896/

    Folklorists have collected tales from around the world for centuries (and many of those quaint tales predate the Judeo-Christian bibles). The non-narrow-minded reader should peruse through a digitized version of the 1919 “Book of Hallowe’en”, viewable on Google: http://tinyurl.com/mp6eujg

  34. Jais H. Tinglund
    October 31st, 2013 at 17:33 | #34

    @Mason #31

    Mason :
    After all the documented historical fact that the church moved it’s holidays to overshadow the pagan ones in Europe?

    Which, again?

  35. Jais H. Tinglund
    October 31st, 2013 at 17:45 | #35

    @Ned Clark #33
    Relevant observations, indeed …

  36. Pr. Abrahamson
    October 31st, 2013 at 17:57 | #36

    @Ned Clark #33
    Thank you. No, they’re not newer beliefs. They are older, documented historic practices as opposed to the self-described creative and imaginative systems of the Neo-Pagans and Wiccans since the discrediting of Margaret Murry’s and James Frazer’s faulty scholarship.

    I appreciate the info about the Haunted houses. Anecdotal information like that is helpful and I can add that into a revised edition of the article. But pushing back the haunted house to the 1930s still doesn’t undermine the ancestry of All Saints’ Day.

    I also appreciate the info about the Benton poem, and will look at this. His poem appears after the Folklorists began to create their pan-Celtic idea and looks as if it draws heavily from that mythos. Again, it doesn’t impact the history of All Saints’ Day.

    I am aware of Kelley’s popularizing book. It is somewhat based on the early folklorists, especially Frazer’s Golden Bough. Unfortunately, she provides almost no references to primary sources for the claims she makes. In addition, she is expansionist in the way she interprets Frazer’s conclusions. The book has almost no value in tracing the history of Halloween before her writing. It does, however, have value in showing where some modern notions about Halloween actually found traction in popular literature.

  37. Michelle
    November 1st, 2013 at 12:19 | #37

    You are wrong. Flat out wrong. My Celtic ancestors would be shocked.

    http://inventors.about.com/od/sstartinventions/a/Samhain.htm

  38. JB
    November 1st, 2013 at 15:58 | #38

    @Michelle #37

    We’re wrong?

    Please prove it by providing primary sources, not unsourced web articles.

    Do you know what a primary source is?

  39. Jais H. Tinglund
    November 1st, 2013 at 16:45 | #39

    @JB #38
    I guess it is like that commercial:
    They can’t put anything on the internet that isn’t true.
    And where did you read that? The internet!

  40. November 2nd, 2013 at 00:49 | #40

    Resources on Halloween pt. 1 is up, and provides primary source documentation for the origin of All Saints’ Day, The Celtic Calendar, Samhain, and the creative interpretations of the early Folklorists.

  41. Stef
    November 3rd, 2013 at 05:57 | #41

    @Pastor Joseph Abrahamson #40

    Oh no! How to kill a conversation or debate for Dummies – Quote real facts and statistics!

    Well done!

  42. mary roberts
    November 7th, 2013 at 01:01 | #42

    I don’t feel comfortable seeing kids dressed as devils and witches, is that wrong? I mean if we are Christians why would we want to dress like Gods enemies and dressing as someone who cast spells etc?
    I am a Roman catholic, but after reading my bible didn’t like the idea of praying to the saints, or to Mary. I stopped attending church .Do Lutherans do this? There were many things I did like about the Catholics but looks like your faith is like them in some ways. How can I find out what your religion teaches? Books etc?
    Thank you

  43. helen
    November 7th, 2013 at 06:57 | #43

    @mary roberts #42
    I am a Roman catholic, but after reading my bible didn’t like the idea of praying to the saints, or to Mary. I stopped attending church. Do Lutherans do this?

    Stop attending church? Yes, some of them do, but it’s not the best way to resolve your problems with faith. (It doesn’t do them any good either.)

    Pray to the saints or to Mary? No, Lutherans don’t, believing that when Christ said, “No one comes to the Father except by Me” that’s what He meant. So we pray His prayer, the “Our Father” which you probably know, and we pray other prayers to the Father, closing them “in Jesus’ Name”.

    Find an LCMS church that has a hymnal in the pew racks and uses it. The liturgy should not seem too different from your own, if you have been attending a traditional Roman Catholic church.
    Books are a good idea, possibly starting with the one called Luther’s Small Catechism. Talking to the Pastor of the Lutheran church is a good idea, too.

    He, or someone on this list, can suggest other books for beginners in the Lutheran faith.
    Since you use your Bible, you might start with the Gospel of Luke, because it tells the Christmas story and we are approaching that season. (I would read the Gospel of John, next.)

    God bless you!
    Helen

    You’re right about the devil and witch costumes, really. There are plenty of better choices, if the children must go “Trick or Treating”.

  44. Jason
    November 7th, 2013 at 08:02 | #44

    mary roberts :How can I find out what your religion teaches? Books etc?Thank you

    Luther’s Small Catechism. That is the base/start for Lutheran lay people and families. It is part of the Book of Concord, which describes our approach to the Bible. You can get the Catechism with Explanation, which has many questions and answers, with multiple Bible verses related all through out.

    cph.org sells many books to help. For people starting out, I am partial to :

    The Lutheran Study Bible (CPH, not Augsburg/Fortress)
    Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation
    Lutheranism 101
    The Lutheran Difference
    Book of Concord

    These do well collection Lutheran doctrine. Other books can take you way deeper into Lutheranism, often used by clergy. And you can always chat with a good LC-MS pastor, who can explain stuff and point you in directions.

  45. Matthew Mills
    November 12th, 2013 at 11:13 | #45

    @mary roberts #42
    Three more for you Mary:

    Dying to Live: The Power of Forgiveness, by Harold L. Senkbeil
    The Hammer of God, by Bo Giertz
    The Sprituality of the Cross, by Gene Edward Veith

    Gods blessings, (and whatever you do, get back to church!)

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  46. Jason
    November 12th, 2013 at 12:39 | #46

    @Matthew Mills #45
    @mary roberts #42

    Right on Matt! I have those three in my personal collection.

    Mary, Matt shared some good reads that help in applying our Synod adheres to in a practical way, in the lives of regular people. In fact, it has been so long, I should reread them myself.

  47. mary roberts
    November 12th, 2013 at 15:03 | #47
  48. ąnonymous
    November 13th, 2013 at 06:44 | #48

    I have a question. How could St. Basil of Caesarea chose a day in 397 if he died in 379, according to wikipedia?

  49. November 15th, 2013 at 19:02 | #49

    Thank you for catching that. I think that the Catholic Encyclopedia transposed the 7 and 9 in their typsetting for the web page. It’s corrected now.

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