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THE MISUNDERSTOOD HISTORY BETWEEN HALLOWEEN AND CHRISTIANITY

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Candies and costumes are taking over the aisles of every store, and that can only mean one thing: Halloween is approaching! While there’s a lot of people that are very excited to test their creativity for this holiday, there are others that just don’t like anything that has to do with this celebration. And sure, this might be due to an issue of personal preferences; however, there’s a pretty deep dislike that comes with this holiday.

There’s a possibility that, throughout your life, you’ve heard that Halloween is a bad holiday. School, the Church, and even our families have told us what they think when it comes to Halloween. But is it really a bad thing? Or is it just a huge misunderstanding? For us to understand what Halloween really means, we need to know about its origins and where it comes from. What we usually know is that it’s an event that’s been celebrated for a very long time. Sure enough, different cultures and religions and even the colonization of the Americas have had a part to play in what we consider to be Halloween today. That’s why, to answer the question if Halloween is a bad holiday for Christians or a misunderstanding, we must go back in time and study its history.

The word “Halloween” comes from All Hallow’s Eve, which means the evening of hallows or saints. It’s believed that Halloween goes all the way back to the ancient Celtic festival Samhain, known as the End of the Summer and the beginning of the dark winter: a Celtic festival celebrated on October 31st, during which they celebrated the end of the year. For Celts, this night meant that the veil between the world of the dead and the living became thin, making a connection between them possible. For people that lived by predicting nature, the dead coming to the world of the living was an important event to predict the future. The Druids and Celtic priests sacrificed crops and animals in huge sacred bonfires because they believed that the evil spirits would not allow them to prevail in the cold season if they didn’t celebrate such a festival. Typically, the Celts dressed up with masks, animal heads and skins…. Sounds disgusting, but also familiar, right? That’s where we get the tradition of using costumes to celebrate Halloween!

So… how come that this celebration relates to saints, while people commemorated this date by sacrificing animals and burned things? The Romans and their colonization, of course. Between Pope Boniface IV and Pope Gregory III, they moved the feast of all martyrs and all saints from May 13 to November 1. With the influence of Christianity in the 9th century, they attempted to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with “All Souls’ Day”; a day to memorialize the dead, to make it a church-sanctioned holiday. But then, during the 19th century, Halloween arrived in America, and the Irish made sure to make it as popular as possible. Now, a mix between the European, Roman, and Celtic traditions, Americans then added the famous trick-or-treating, alongside parties where they celebrated the harvest by dancing, singing and honoring the dead.

As time passed, Americans began to shift the concept of death and sacrifice into get-togethers within the community. The disturbing rituals evolved into trick-or-treats (pranks), and kids asking for soul cakes, related to All Souls’ Day. Nowadays, Halloween has become a mainstream holiday, where people, especially the young ones, love to dress up, eat candy, and watch as many scary movies as they can. Honestly, who doesn’t love to have a cheat dayーwhere you eat as much candy as possible and then snuggle up in bed to watch a good Halloween movie marathon on Netflix? Exactly!

The question of whether Christians should celebrate this holiday still stands to this day even, when Halloween is technically unrelated to the Devil. It may seem that this objection from the Evangelical Christians has been prevalent for a while, but it’s a recent occurrence. Christians fear that this holiday serves as a sort of gateway into the occult, wherein people will start glorifying dark cults and worshiping the devil. In fear of children being corrupted, they related this event to rock culture, sexual promiscuity, and drug use, creating an anti-Halloween campaign in the 80s. Thus, people started to panic over Satanism and thought that everything was related to it. Also, they started to spread the belief that Halloween was the Devil’s birthday. To this day, many Christians still dread this holiday; but now, there are other worries other than just Halloween. They are worried about “the declining cultural hegemony of Christianity,” argues Jason C. Bivins, author of Religion of Fear: The Politics of Horror in Conservative Evangelicalism. Therefore, there are mixed concerns that Christians are projecting onto Halloween. From the origins of the holiday and all the additions made by following cultures, it’s important we understand that there is no relation to the Devil, the occult, or anything “corrupt” that makes people who celebrate it sinners. These myths were created and then propagated by Christianity and many of its different denominations.

What I do think is that Christians should have the freedom to decide whether to celebrate this holiday or not. Like every holiday―including Christmas and Easter―Halloween has its own history that’s related to multiple cultures and religions. However, it’s now considered a rather wholesome event, where kids enjoy dressing up and having fun with their friends. It’s not limited to kids onlyーI’m not a child and I can’t wait to put my makeup and costume on this year! Kids will always need to be supervised regardless of anything, but as long as you’re having fun and doing the right thing, it’s not a bad thing to celebrate a community festival such as this one. So, if you’re a Christian and you’re wondering if you should celebrate Halloween, I say go for it!

Nahiria I. Rivera Dieppa is a student from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. She's studying Creative Writing with a second concentration in Public Relations and Publicity. She loves her books more than anything, and is passionate about music.
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