Facts about the True Origin of Halloween

Mark Gordon BrownStarred Page By Mark Gordon Brown, 27th Sep 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Culture>Holidays & Celebrations

Is Halloween an evil Pagan Holiday? Is Halloween Christian? What are the origins of the October 31 holiday we now call Halloween.

What was Samhain?

Although pagans are often thought of as a bunch of crazy savages, they were nothing of the sort. These people would not have built the well developed societies that they did if the were running around day and night as savages. Early Celts were a very organized people, but as pagans they did begin the tradition we now call Halloween.

In those days the holiday that falls on October 31 was called Samhain (say Sow-en), following the harvest, this was a time when the pagans slaughtered their old and weak animals those who were probably not fit to survive through the winter. This not only provided the people with food, but reduced the number of animals they had to care for through the winter months. This was not a sacrifice, but it was a slaughter with a practical purpose. The skulls of some animals were probably placed to honor the animals themselves, not unlike what we do with deer skulls today.

Part of the Samhain celebrations included men, often dressed up as women, going from farm to farm to collect food for a feast, or party. Women often joined in by dressing as men. Pranks were played on those who did not give food for the feasts. Such pranks usually included leaving gates open and such. Many times the foods would be cooked into a soup or stew in a large cauldron.

What are the Traditions of Samhain

In addition to collecting food, slaughtering excess livestock, there were other traditions associated with this time of year.

Turnips were hollowed out and used to hold candles. Celebrations were held to honor the dead. This was a magical time of the year and the people believed that the relatives who had died earlier in the year could return for one night before departing the earth for good. The pagans did not fear their dead, they were not scared of them, they did not try to frighten them away.

Games were played mostly of telling the fortunes of a girl and whom she might marry in the coming year.* Drinking games may have been common among workers tired from the harvest and slaughter.

Bonfires were lit at night and stories were told. Other games like bobbing for apples were played. Samhain was not an evil holiday, but one of celebration.

*Note: To Christians, the simple game of telling somebodies fortune was considered witchcraft, and was probably cause for the connection between Halloween and witches.

How Samhain became Halloween

When Christians came to places where Samhain was celebrated they tried to put an end to it, rather unsuccessfully. While some people did convert to Christianity they did not want to give up their traditions.

Early Christians then moved a day, All Saints Day, from earlier in the year, to November 1, it was also known as All Hallows Day. This then made October 31 become All Hallows Eve, or Halloween, as we now know it. Although Samhain had been many days of celebration it changed to one day and eventually pumpkins replaced turnips, kids asking for candy replaced the young men asking for food.

If anything, Halloween became more morbid after it was claimed by Christianity as the myth was then told that the day was filled with evil spirits.

Through the ages people were told that pagans were savage and that the day should not be celebrated because it was associated with mayhem and the occult – all of which is not true. It is true that it was a pagan holiday, but no longer is. In fact with the new name, Halloween, is now as much of a Christian holiday as are Easter and Christmas.

What's that about Easter and Christmas?

It should also be noted that Christmas and Easter were also times of celebrations before Christianity spread throughout the land. Christmas was celebrated as Saturnalia, or Yule, while Easter still retains its pagan name, indicating its reference to celebrations for the fertility goddess Eastre.

Both of these other holidays are still celebrated with traditions that predate Christianity.

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All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day, Evil, Halloween, History, October, Origin, Pagan Christian, Samhain, Tradition

Meet the author

author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
Raised in Michigan, I have a son who recently joined the Military. I am living in Canada with my wife where we have a hobby farm.

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author avatar Val Mills
28th Sep 2011 (#)

I think I prefer the early version of Halloween. Really enjoyed this informative piece, Mark.

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author avatar Buzz
28th Sep 2011 (#)

Enjoyed reading it too. Now I know the origin of Halloween. Thanks, Mark.

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author avatar Delicia Powers
28th Sep 2011 (#)

Great information, thanks Mark...

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author avatar johnnydod
28th Sep 2011 (#)

Very interesting Mark, I love to delve into these old customs. thanks for putting it so well

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author avatar kaylar
28th Sep 2011 (#)

Beat me to the punch (write). What you will find very evident in Xianity is the adoption of Pagan festivals, holidays, practices, given a new name a new basis and handed to the public as part of Xianity.

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author avatar Vernazoa
28th Sep 2011 (#)

Mark I knew a lot about this date but you shared new information to me. I like that. Thank You!

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
28th Sep 2011 (#)

Extremely interesting Mark. Great share. Thank you.

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author avatar Thema C.
29th Sep 2011 (#)

very detailed and informative.

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author avatar Carol
30th Sep 2011 (#)

What interesting information Mark. I know you celebrate halloweeen in a big way in USA, it has caught on in England now, the youngsters love to do their trick and treat.

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author avatar vpaulose
30th Sep 2011 (#)

Interesting information about Halloween. Thank you my dear Guruji.

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author avatar Sam Bralley
1st Oct 2011 (#)

Very good and informative read. Thanks for this interesting material about an upcoming holiday...

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author avatar Pat Anthony
2nd Oct 2011 (#)

Great info about Halloween and other 'pagan' holidays. It is funny how few know why they do what they do.

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author avatar deepa venkitesh
4th Oct 2011 (#)

thank you for letting us know about this festival

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author avatar LOVERME
5th Oct 2011 (#)

I can't post any poems and i am so glad i could get my views across to you for the first time after a long time

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author avatar Retired
6th Oct 2011 (#)

Excellent, interesting adn informative. Well done and deserving of the star. :)

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author avatar Bridgitte Williams
11th Oct 2011 (#)

Fascinating!! :-) I loved the photos with. Happy Halloween!

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author avatar Songbird B
31st Oct 2011 (#)

What a great Star page, and so informative too, Mark! Congrats on another great article my friend..

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author avatar Dawn Love
4th Oct 2013 (#)

Actually, modern Pagans still celebrate Samhain, a day of remembrance for those we lost that year. It is considered the Pagan New Year. It is NOT a Christian holiday. At least at any of the churches I went to. They had other celebrations to keep kids from the evils of Halloween. Now it is just another excuse for businesses to sell cards, candy, and decorations. And Easter also started out as a Pagan holiday, Ostara, co-opted by the Christians for the purpose of converting pagans. Christmas was originally Yule, co-opted for the same reason. The birth of Jesus has been calculated from info from the Bible to be sometime in August, not December.

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