On 31 October, spooky beings and superheroes, cartoon characters and rubberized celebrities will line the streets and mall hallways of America anticipating sugary rewards. Compelled by shouts of “TRICK OR TREAT,” children of all ages will tote receptacles of various size and weight harboring the result of the nights hunt. It’s called Halloween, and while for most it is a harmless annual activity, its roots run deep in ancient paganism.
ALL HALLOWS’ EVE, or Halloween, originated in the 7th century AD. It was celebrated on 13 May and was a night for remembering deceased saints and martyrs. The date was later changed to November 1 in order to Christianize the pagan holidays Beltane and Samhain—festivals of summer, winter and fire.
James Frazer, in The Golden Bough, said, “throughout Europe, Hallowe’en, the night which marks the transition from autumn to winter, seems to have been of old the time of year when the souls of the departed revisited their homes in order to warm themselves by the fire.” Such ghosts walked the countryside retrieving offerings of food and drink (the treat) supplied by living family members. Darker forces roamed the night as well. Demons, hobgoblins, witches on broomstick, all haunting the night with acts of mischief (the trick). Continue reading “Happy Halloween?” »