For years now, families – particularly in the US - have struggled with everincreasing bad effects of a night spent exalting

horror. Hospitals and authorities advise that parents examine or x-ray treats and that people be in their homes by 10 pm. Candies are poisoned, properties damaged, and vandalism has increased, all in the name of Halloween. Halloween is considered a typically American festival and a fairly recent one – since America itself is a recent entrant in the annals of world history. Folks are happy enough to put on outlandish costumes and go trick or treating, but few will have paused to reflect on the origins of this slightly macabre revelry. It would be foolish, of course, to attribute it to the Puritans who came over on the Mayflower – they would have been horrified at what they would have considered pagan hedonism. So who started these semi-sinful shenanigans? Some conservatives would doubtless like to lay it at the door of godless Democrats. Modern day Halloween has become a mixture of several religious practices and a children's holiday. However, a look at the history of Halloween will illustrate how mixed up this confusing holiday has really become. The origin of Halloween dates back before Christ. The Celts, who lived more than two thousand years ago, in the region that is now Ireland, Britain and Northern France, celebrated their New Year on November 1st – which they called the feast of Samahin. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest season and the beginning of the cold, dark winter – a time of year that was associated with death. The Celts' mythology taught that with the coming of winter, came a night in which the spirits of the dead could freely roam about with humans. Some of these spirits would inflict suffering and violence upon man. The Celts believed that the presence of these supernatural beings on earth made it easier for their priests – known as Druids – to make predictions about the future. For a people who had not yet discovered science, these predictions were an important source of comfort and guidance during the long, dark winter. To appease the spirits and the gods that were worshipped, the Druids would erect huge bonfires and put out their best food offerings on the doorstep. Celtic priests would also offer sacrifices, animal and human, to the gods to ask for a return of the sun and in hopes that the gods would chase away the evil, frightening spirits. Often, the Celts would wear dreadful costumes, hoping to fool an evil spirit with the disguise. There are practices from the history of Halloween that are still being practiced today. By 43 A.D., the Romans had conquered most of Celtic territory. During the four hundred years that they ruled over the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic feast of Samahin. The first was Feralia, a day in late October, when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the souls of the dead into the next world. The second was to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the Apple tree – and the incorporation of this celebration into Samahin is probably the origin of “bobbing” for apples that is practiced today on Halloween. By 800 A.D., the influence of Christianity had spread to Celtic territories. In the Seventh Century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1st as All Saints Day, to commemorate Catholic saints and martyrs. The pope was probably attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The holiday was also known as All Hallows Eve, which later became Halloween. It was celebrated with big bonfires, parades and dressing up as saints, angels and devils. (Trick or treating is exclusively a modern day Yankee add-on). While the history of Halloween explains much about where modern day Halloween customs come from, (the origin of Halloween customs were brought to this country in the 1800's by the Irish), what about the modern day practices of the occults? Occults find their rituals associated with the same source, a time when the dead can easily communicate with the living therefore making divinations and sacrifices during the fall season opportune. In truth, the origin of Halloween has its root in Satan, the author of deception. ".... for he (the devil) is a liar and the father of it." (John 8:44)

It is interesting how much modern day American practices and modern day witchcraft have in common with the ancient beliefs of the Celtic people – although these days Halloween has become more of an excuse to have a good time. The religious significance has become obscured and virtually forgotten: which is probably just as well. Deutronomy (verse 17:10) tells us "There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through fire, or that useth divination or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch." Reflecting on that grim pronouncement would take all the fun out of it.