Get your facts right before commenting: Halloween is NOT a Christian festival

The Church, for centuries, has discouraged the celebration of Halloween. Former Pope Benedict XVI even slammed Halloween as ‘Dangerous.’

Every year, as fall ventures deeper, there’s an air of spookiness that takes over us. While everyone gets all cheery about Halloween, debates such as ‘should we celebrate Halloween or not’ become louder. With the social media becoming an increasingly significant part of our life, everyone who wants to look ‘cool’ takes to Facebook or Twitter to express their point-of-view on the issue. As a matter of fact, the viewpoints on Halloween have become nastier than ‘Halloween’, itself – just like on Valentine’s Day.

Yes, it is that time of the year when we have something more than politics to debate about. All pseudo-intellectuals have already taken to social media to comment on the diabolism of Halloween. However, this year, we’ve also experienced some very offensive comments by pseudo-intellectuals depicting Halloween as a religious festival of Christians. One such group of “wannbes” left the following comment on a school forum: “Halloween is a Christian religious activity for evil spiritual powers.”

Seriously? Before we draw opinions or comments, isn’t it wiser for us to at least Google a subject that’s internationally famed.  Factually speaking, good, spiritually conscious people do not celebrate Halloween, unless they choose to do it for fun.

So, what exactly is Halloween? It is a cultural (note, ‘cultural’ and not ‘religious’) festival of pagans.  Halloween originates in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which is over 2,000 years old. The festival used to mark the end of summer, and was mostly in order to celebrate the harvest, as well as the end of the year. October 31 was the last day of the year for the Celts, and November 1 marked the beginning of their New Year. As the date also depicted the beginning of the cold and dark winter - a time of year that was often associated with human death – the Celts believed that on their New Year’s Eve, the boundary between the worlds of the dead and living became muddled. Therefore, they celebrated Samhain on the night of October 31, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to the earth.

The name Halloween came in much later when Pope Gregory IV pronounced All Saints Day on November 1 and All Souls Day on November 2. All Saints Day, which is commemorated in honour of saints and martyrs, was initially observed in May. The idea to move to ‘Feast of All Saints,’ as it’s also called, was to replace the Celtic pagan festival now known as Halloween. Because the Feast of All Saints was also called ‘All Hallows,’ a night before the feast was called ‘All Hallows Eve.’ Therefore, to put the Church down, as an act of ungodliness, Pagans and evil worshippers pronounced their festival as ‘Halloween.’

The Church, for centuries, has discouraged the celebration of Halloween. Former Pope Benedict XVI even slammed Halloween as ‘Dangerous.’ In an article titled ‘The Dangerous Messages of Halloween,’ the Vatican's official newspaper L'Osservatore Romano quoted liturgical expert Joan Maria Canals saying that 'Halloween has an undercurrent of occultism and is absolutely anti-Christian.' Aldo Bonaiuto, head of the Catholic Church's anti-occult and sect unit, warning parents of the dangers to children and that the event 'promotes the culture of death,’ commented, “Halloween pushes new generations towards a mentality of esoteric magic and it attacks sacred and spiritual values through a devious initiation to the art and images of the occult. At best, it gives a big helping hand to consumerism and materialism. Halloween simply glorifies evil.”

Because we have become a closely-knit global village (thanks to new age technology) we have (truthfully confessing) adopted rituals and trends from those parts of the world that religiously, or spiritually, or commercially, or in any other form have no association with us. Since we find nothing wrong in having fun, we find it ‘okay’ to celebrate Halloween as an eventful activity. Although the internet is giving us exposure to knowledge beyond our understanding, helping us keep ourselves abreast with current trends, and knit ourselves with developed nations, we remain aloof and, hence, lack the right knowledge on many such subjects.

But, we do know that the internet is full of nonsense, too! In these recent years, we have seen a number of publications stressing on why Christians should celebrate Halloween. You will find articles that are even associating Halloween to Christianity. Large online communities are manipulating our minds into believing that Halloween is harmless, while others are trying hard to discourage the celebration of Halloween – but with all the wrong facts and reasons. Before you attempt to comment on such a subject, trust Google. Research, and get your facts right. It’s better to spend a little time studying on a subject than to look like a complete fool.

PS: Whether to celebrate Halloween or not is your personal choice. The fact remains, no matter what, that Halloween is a glorification of evil.

Marian Sharaf Joseph is an independent journalist. Her work for local and global publications focuses on culture and community affairs