Halloween or What’s in a Name?

People have told me that they have issues with Halloween due to it’s name.  They feel that “Harvest Festival” is more Christian.  I disagree.  So, here is a little background on the name.

Around the eighth century A.D., Christians declared that 1 November was All Saints Day, the day to honour all the saints and martyrs who didn’t have a specific day set aside for them.  According to the Catholic Encyclopedia (found here: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01315a.htm) Pope Gregory III consecrated a chapel at St. Peter’s Basilica for all the saints, the Blessed Virgin, and all the martyrs, while Gregory IV spread the 1 November celebration to the whole Catholic Church. 

I know what you’re thinking, what do these old ,dead Italian guys have to do with Halloween?  Well, stick with me for a minute and you’ll find out.

“Hallows” was the word for “saints” back in those days and the service held on that day was called “Allhallowmas” or the “Mass of All Hallows.”  Therefore, the day before was called “All Hallows Eve” (just like we have a Christmas Eve before Christmas).  “All Hallows Eve” or “Hallows Even” eventually got shortened to “Halloween”.  Therefore, the name of the holiday itself is a reference to Christianity and to those who have lived holy lives or died for their faith. 

I’m thinking that if you explain this to children and say, have them go out Trick-or-Treating with their friends and then make a tradition in your household of talking about the saints and martyrs when they’re calmed down and about to go to bed, rather than read them their regular bedtime story, make it special time with Mom/Dad/Guardian you can teach them a little bit about their faith on this day in a way that allows them to participate in a cultural activity while using it to discuss examples of faith.  It could also be something you do before they get together with their friends as a reminder of why, as a Christian, they shouldn’t play mean pranks or act in an inappropriate manner.  If you, as an adult, lead by example, by being kind and welcoming to your neighbours and not going overboard in your celebrations, you can teach your children how to partake in an appropriate and healthy way, not by egging people’s house or the like (which is why someone told me they would not let their children participate: “It leads to carousing and egging houses and the like”).  The very name of Halloween is a name that honours saints, martyrs, and the Virgin Mary, whereas, to me “Harvest Festival” removes religion from the holiday or ties it back to older, pagan traditions, rather than making it more Christian.

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