When the walls between the worlds grow thin........

Our modern holiday of Hallowe'en has it's roots in ancient tradition. The Catholic Church celebrates All Saints Day on November 1, making October 31 All Hallows (holy) Eve. Over time, the name was shortened to Hallow E'en (the poetic form for evening or eve). Not an evil or Satanic celebration at all!

The celts believed that on this night, also know as Samhain, the walls between the worlds became thin and those who had passed on would return to walk the earth.

In an attempt to frighten away these spirits, and not become possessed by them themselves, the people dressed in frightening costumes, darkened their houses, and lit Jack-o-lanterns in their windows. They went through town acting wild and destructive. Thus, the "tricks" of Hallowe'en.

The original Jack-O-Lanterns the celts put in their windows were carved turnips. The pumpkin is a vegetable native to North America. The story of the Jack-O-Lantern, is also Irish in origin. The story goes that Jack, tempted by the Devil, tricked him up into a tree, where he carved a cross so that the Devil could not come down. When Jack died, because of his wicked ways in life, he was not welcome in Heaven. Nor was he welcome in Hell since the Devil had been tricked by him. He was forced to roam through the darkness with only a single ember from Hell to light his way.

When Ireland was plagued by the potato blight in the mid 1800's, a million Irish immigrants came to North America, bringing the Hallowe'en tradition with them.

The "treats" tradition stems from the European custom of "souling". On All Souls Day, November 2, people would go from house to house, begging soul cakes. The cakes were given only on the promise that the "beggar" would pray for a soul in Purgatory, so that that soul may achieve Heaven. One soul per cake. Over time, the two events, the "tricks" of Samhain and the "treats" of souling, came together to form the traditions of our Hallowe'en.

Today, Hallowe'en is a fun holiday for both children and adults. But there are many who would like to see it banned, claiming it is a pagan or even Satanic and evil holiday. And while it is true, that some of the elements of the tradition of Hallowe'en come from the Celtic pagan past, and no other group in history merged pagan and Christian beliefs like the Irish, the traditions are primarily Christian in spirit. The belief in the "spirit world" need not be at odds with Christianity at all. Another primarily Catholic country, Mexico, celebrates "The Day of the Dead" with great joy. People spend the entire day and night in cemetaries, bringing food and drink in the hopes of communing with lost loved ones. And the next morning, all attend Mass to praise All Saints. Can there be anything evil in this?

Have a fun and safe Hallowe'en!!

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