The Plain Truth

                                           October 1967                                                                                                            

                                                               THE ORIGIN OF HALLOWE'EN 


                                               What about this strange festival? What have goblins, witches and ghosts to do with

                                           this feast of All Hallows Eve? And why the demoniacal masks and gaudy


                                                                                        by Gerhard O. Marx 


                                              EACH YEAR millions around the world observe the strangest of all festivals,

                                           Hallowe'en -- All Hallows Evening. Especially so in Great Britain, Scandinavia and the

                                           United States. Every autumn, young and old alike anticipate its revels. It's a night of

                                           frolicking fun and frivolous foolishness. All kinds of nonsense and superstitions are

                                           associated with this festival.


                                           But Why? 


                                              On the eve of this night children dress in outrageous costumes and put on witch-like

                                           masks. Then they are turned loose to frighten or otherwise induce people into giving

                                           them food items and other gifts. Millions are familiar with the "trick-or-treat" threat

                                           associated with Hallowe'en. Buildings are desecrated, windows broken and other

                                           fooleries are resorted to.


                                               WHY do so many keep Hallowe'en? What useful purpose does such a celebration

                                           fulfill in this "enlightened" scientific twentieth century? What purpose did it ever serve?

                                           Is it merely a harmless celebration to amuse our children? It's about time we checked

                                           into this observance to see WHERE and WHEN it really originated and FOR

                                           WHAT PURPOSE it was established. 


                                               You may not have realized it, but the ancient pre-Christian Druids in Britain, the

                                           pagan Romans and Greeks, and even the Babylonians, among others, kept a

                                           Hallowe'en festival.


                                           Not Christian


                                              Yes, Hallowe'en long antedates Christianity! It was only later introduced into the

                                           professing Christian world -- centuries AFTER the death of the Apostles. 

                                           Notice! "The earliest Hallowe'en celebrations [in Britain] were held by the Druids in

                                           honour of Samhain, Lord of the Dead, whose festival fell on November 1" (see

                                           "Halloween Through Twenty Centuries", by Ralph Linton, p. 4). "It is clearly a

                                           RELIC OF PAGAN TIMES"! ("The Book of Days", Chambers, v. 2, p. 519.) 


                                               Further, "It was a Druidical belief that on the eve of this festival Saman, lord of

                                           death, called together the wicked spirits that within the past 12 months had been

                                           condemned to inhabit the bodies of animals" ("Enc. Brit.", 11th ed., v. 12, pp.

                                           857-8). Read what this November celebration was like! It was a pagan belief that on

                                           one night of the year the souls of the dead return to their original homes, there to be

                                           entertained with food. If  food and shelter were not provided, these spirits, it

                                           was believed, would cast spells and cause havoc towards those failing to fulfill their

                                           requests. "It was the night for the universal walking about of all sorts of spirits, fairies,

                                           and ghosts, all of whom had liberty on that night" ("Highland Superstitions", Alexander

                                           Macgregor, p. 44). Literal sacrifices were offered on this night to the spirits of the

                                           dead, when, so the belief went, they visited their earthly haunts and their friends. 


                                               There was a reason why November was chosen for that particular event. The Celts

                                           and other Northern people considered the beginning of November as their New Year.

                                           This was the time when the leaves were falling and a general seasonal decay

                                           was taking place everywhere. Thus it was a fitting time, so they reasoned, for the

                                           commemoration of the dead. Since the Northern nations at that time began their day

                                           in the evening, the eve leading up to November 1st was the beginning of the festival.

                                           According to the Roman calendar it was the evening October 31 -- hence, Hallowe'en

                                           -- the evening of All Hallows. 

                                           Observed Everywhere 


                                               Hallowe'en, or "All Souls Eve," was kept throughout the ancient pagan world. The

                                           observance was widespread. "There was a prevailing belief AMONG ALL

                                           NATIONS that at death the souls of good men were taken possession of by good 

                                           spirits and carried to paradise; but the souls of wicked men were left to wander in the

                                           space between the earth and moon, or consigned to the unseen world. These

                                           wandering spirits were in the habit of HAUNTING THE LIVING ... BUT THERE

                                           WERE MEANS BY WHICH THESE GHOSTS MIGHT BE EXORCISED"

                                           ("Folklore", James Napier, p. 11). 

                                                To exorcise these ghosts, that is, to free yourself from their supposed evil sway,

                                           you would have to set out food and provide shelter for them during the night. If they

                                           were satisfied with your offerings, it was believed they would leave you in peace. If

                                           not, they were believed to cast an evil spell on you. "In Wales it was firmly believed

                                           that on All Hallows Eve the spirit of a departed person was to be seen at midnight on

                                           every crossroad and every stile" ("Folklore and Folk-Stories of Wales", Marie

                                           Trevelyan, p. 254). 

                                               In Cambodia people used to chant:
"O all you our ancestors, who are departed,

                                           deign to come and eat what we have prepared for you, and to bless your posterity

                                           and to make it happy" ("Notice sur le Cambodge", Paris 1875, E. Aymonièr, p. 59). 

                                               This sort of Hallowe'en festival was strenuously observed throughout the

                                           non-Christian world. Pagans would pray to their false gods to prevent "DEMONS"

                                           and "witches" from molesting them. Notice! "The Miatecs of Mexico believed that the

                                           souls of the dead came back in the twelfth month of the year, WHICH 

                                           CORRESPONDED TO OUR NOVEMBER. On this day of All Souls the houses

                                           were decked out to welcome the spirits. Jars of food and drink were set on a table in

                                           the principal room, and the family went out with the torches to meet the ghosts and

                                           invite them to enter. Then, returning to the house they knelt around the table, and with

                                           their eyes bent on the ground, prayed the souls to accept the offerings" ("Adonis",

                                           Frazer, p. 244). 

                                               This, then, is the way the heathen world celebrated their Hallowe'en, their "
All Souls

                                           Day". Although some aspects of the Hallowe'en festival varied with each country, the

                                           overall pattern and purpose remained the same. 



                                               But how did the professing Christian world come to accept and keep such a day? 

                                           Here is what you, probably, haven't been told. In 607 A.D. the Roman Emperor

                                           Phocus defeated the Barbarians who were in control of Rome. The Pantheon in

                                           Rome, a pagan edifice which had been wrested from the barbarians, was given

                                           to pope Boniface IV. Originally, Emperor Hadrian built the Pantheon -- around

                                           100 A.D. He dedicated it to the pagan goddess Cybele and to the other Roman

                                           deities. This temple became the central place in Rome where the pagans honored and

                                           commemorated their gods. With this splendid edifice now falling into the hands

                                           of professing Christians, the question was, What should be done with it? 

                                               The pagans had dedicated it to Cybele and all their gods. But the Roman bishop

                                           now CONSECRATED IT TO THE VIRGIN MARY AND ALL THE

                                           SAINTS of both sexes (see "The Mysteries of All Nations", Grant, p. 120). Thus this

                                           pagan building became "holy." No more did the pagan Romans use this edifice to

                                           pray for their dead. It was now the professing Christians who employed the Pantheon

                                            in praying for their dead. 

                                               This re-dedication of the pagan temple to Mary and others occurred in 610 A.D.

                                           Now converted into a Christian shrine, an annual festival was instituted to

                                           commemorate the event. The day chosen was May 13. 

                                               This May 13 commemoration of the dead saints was known by the name of

                                           Saints Day." It continued to be held in May for over two centuries -- until 834 A.D.

                                           In that year the NAME and the DATE WERE CHANGED

"The time of celebration was altered to the FIRST OF NOVEMBER,

                                           and it was then called ALL HALLOW" -- from where we get the name Hallowe'en,

                                           ALL HALLOW merely meaning ALL HOLY, and the "een" is a contraction of

                                           evening ("Folklore", James Napier, p. 177). 

                                               Thus in 834 A.D. the Church in the Middle Ages began to celebrate Hallowe'en on

                                           the FIRST OF NOVEMBER for the first time. This was the very same day the

                                           Druids in Britain, the Norsemen in Scandinavia, and the pagan Germans among others

                                           were keeping their festival of ALL SOULS EVE, in commemoration of Saman, lord 

                                           of death, and his demons. 


                                           Reason for Change 

                                               Why did the church change the date to November 1st, thus coinciding with the

                                           pagans' feast of ALL SOULS? There is a reason! 

                                               It was a general practice of the restored Roman Empire, now professing

                                           Christianity, to "convert" the pagans within the empire as quickly and on as large a

                                           scale as possible. Changing dates of festivals often made it easier to influence

                                           newly conquered peoples.  

                                           Ever since the time of Constantine -- who made a state religion out of Christianity --

                                           the Roman emperors realized how essential it was to have a UNIFIED empire, in

                                           which as many as possible would be of ONE MIND. The civil and religious leaders 

                                           saw how important it was for the sake of unity to ALLOW ONLY ONE 

                                           RELIGION within the restored Roman domain. It became therefore a stringent state

                                           policy to force all non-Christians to accept the new state religion. Here is how the plan

                                            was carried out. 

                                            Conversion of Germans 

                                               When the German Frankish king Charlemagne invaded and conquered parts of

                                           Eastern Germany, he compelled the conquered German king, Wittekind, to be

                                           baptized and to accept Christianity. Having no choice and seeing his life was at

                                           stake, this heathen ruler who knew little or nothing about Christ -- was forced into this

                                           "conversion." And with him his entire people. This policy brought complex problems.

                                           These pagans, who were usually baptized EN MASSE, were still pagans at heart.

                                           Even though they became nominal Christians, they still yearned for many of their

                                           heathen practices, which they were expected to discard. 

                                               With Wittekind's baptism, for example, a vast number of barbarians were suddenly

                                           added to the roll call of the church. Wittekind's Germans, now professing Christians,

                                           and other conquered pagans, had a profound influence on the ecclesiastical affairs of

                                           the church in the early 800's A. D. These barbaric and uncultured people brought with

                                           them many outright pagan practices and celebrations, Hallowe'en merely being one of

                                           many. They were fervent in clinging to their past ceremonies and observed

                                           them openly -- yet supposedly converted to Christianity. What was the church to do?

                                           Excommunicate them and thus reduce her membership? This she would not do. Was

                                           she to force them into discarding their heathen practices and adopt Italian or Roman

                                           ones? This, as she had learned in past times, was not possible. 

                                               There remained only one other way. Let the recently converted pagans keep certain

                                           of their heathen festivals, such as Hallowe'en or All Souls Day -- but label it

                                           "Christian." Of course the Germans were asked not to pray to their ancient pagan

                                           gods on this day. They must now use this day to commemorate the death of the saints.

                                           To make it easy for them, the Roman Church even CHANGED HER DATE of All

                                           Saints Day from May 13 to November 1st to satisfy the growing numbers

                                           of Germanic adherents. The Church understood the yearnings the Germans and

                                           others had for their old ways. 


                                                Throughout history, the Christian-professing world has resorted to this action. We

                                           have the theological explanation of this given to us by Pope Innocent. He refers to a

                                           heathen festival the pagans kept in the early part of the Roman Empire and explained

                                           how the professing Christian world should treat this day: 


                                                "The heathen dedicated this month [2 Feb.] to the infernal gods ... In the beginning

                                           of this month the idolaters walked about the city with lighted candles, and as some of

                                           the holy fathers COULD NOT EXTIRPATE SUCH A CUSTOM, they

                                           ORDAINED that Christians should carry about candles IN HONOUR OF THE

                                           "VIRGIN MARY" ("Folklore", James Napier, p. 181). 


                                               If a pagan practice or festival could not be forbidden, it was reasoned, "let it be

                                           tamed." Thus many were persuaded to TRANSFER devotion from their former gods

                                           to the Christian God. So it was with the festival of ALL SOULS EVE. Notice this

                                           admission: "Thus, at the first promulgation of Christianity to the Gentile nations ...

                                           THEY COULD NOT BE PERSUADED TO RELINQUISH many of their

                                           superstitions, which, rather than forego altogether, they chose to blend and

                                            INCORPORATE with the new faith" ("Popular Antiquities of Great Britain", John

                                            Brand, p. xi). 


                                           What About Our Time? 

                                               Now come down to the twentieth century. You'll be surprised to what extent we

                                           have inherited pagan rites and ceremonies from our forefathers, so obvious in the

                                           celebration of Hallowe'en. Note this classic example. "In many Catholic countries the 

                                           belief that the DEAD RETURN on this day is so strong, that food is left on the tables

                                           and people still decorate the graves of the dead [on this day]" ("Dictionary of

                                           Folklore", Funk and Wagnalls, v. 1, p. 38). 


                                               In Protestant countries many pagan superstitious beliefs and practices have become

                                           an integral part of each year's celebration. 


                                               In many parts of Britain, BONFIRES are set alight on the eve of Hallowe'en. Of

                                           course fire has nothing to do with praying for dead saints. The original reason for the

                                           fire, however, was to frighten away witches and evil spirits on this night. Fire has 

                                           always been an essential part of Hallowe'en in Great Britain. 

                                           You and Your Children 



                                               What about you and your children? What comes to your mind when thinking about

                                           Hallowe'en? The truth of the Bible? Not at all! Instead, weird and FRIGHTENING

                                           MASKS -- persons PORTRAYED AS WITCHES AND DEMONS. Pumpkins

                                           and turnips hollowed out in the shape of EERIE-LOOKING faces! Lighted candles

                                           are placed inside to help bring out the more frightful side of these carvings. Dough is

                                           baked into small figurines RESEMBLING WITCHES AND SPIDER'S WEB

                                           CAKES are baked by the dozen for this occasion. Children, dressed up in the most

                                           revolting garments, are let loose on the neighbors, trying to scare the daylights out

                                           of them. 


                                               Let's be honest. I have before me the "Good Housekeeping's Book of

                                           Entertainment", which my wife picked up from the local library. On page 168 of this

                                           much-read book, there is a section on what to do on Hallowe'en. Notice the

                                           astonishing advice given! 

"Halloween decorations are quite as important as the food. When planning them,

                                           remember that if the room is to be dimly lit (preferably by candle and FIRELIGHT)

                                           the decorations must be bold to be effective. Orange, black and red, THE DEVIL'S

                                           COLOURS, are the colours associated with Halloween and THIS SCHEME

                                           SHOULD BE CARRIED OUT as far as possible ... Have paper streamers and 

                                           lanterns hanging from the ceiling, or, if you would like to have something less usual,

                                           you could make a giant SPIDER'S web with black and orange strings, or in narrow

                                           strips of crepe paper coming from the four corners of the room, complete with a

                                           LARGE SPIDER -- one of the DEVIL'S FAVOURITE FOLLOWERS." 


                                           Notice where the stress lies! 


                                               Read further of the black magic associated with this festival. "To decorate the walls,

                                           make large silhouettes of CATS, BATS, OWLS AND WITCHES ON

                                           BROOMSTICKS ... For the supper table small WITCHES WITH

                                           BROOMSTICKS can be made by using lollipops on 4-inch sticks." 

                                               Weird lanterns, witch-balls, and witches' cauldrons are some other objects, the

                                           book suggests, which must fit into the evening somehow. How pagan can you get? 

                                               NOWHERE does the Bible command us to observe Hallowe'en. Hallowe'en and

                                           other common festivals which people observe in the Christian-professing world have

                                           NO BIBLICAL BASIS. They originated in paganism. 

                                               The testimony of history stamps Hallowe'en as a HEATHEN festival. It's built on a

                                           PAGAN FOUNDATION. Your Bible warns: "For other foundation can no man

                                           lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (I Cor. 3:11). 

                                           Which is the BASIS of YOUR practice and belief? 

                                               Turn to
Deuteronomy 12:29-31 and read God's condemnation of Hallowe'en! And

                                           write for our free article on Hallowe'en which covers many other startling facts not

                                           included here!