How is All Saint's Day and Halloween related (Photo Credit: Twitter)
Two celebrations of two contradicting beliefs, All Saint’s Day and Halloween or Samhain (a Celtic harvest festival) outrightly believed to be pagan, celebrated in order of two days, what could be the relation between these two festivals, one must ask. To know the relation between All Saint's Day and the ‘day of spookiness’, it is worth noting that many Halloween traditions originated from ancient Celtic harvest festivals, particularly the Gaelic festival Samhain which is believed to have pagan roots and that Samhain itself was Christianized as Halloween by the early Church.
Debate on Halloween origin however, still remains a divided topic. Some believe that it is solely a Christian holiday while debate that its roots can be traced to Parentalia, the Roman festival of the dead. The most commonly stronghold belief however, has itself to do with Samahain origin, which is celebrated to mark the end of the harvest season and the onset of the cold darkness of winter. In between Samhain being Christianized and the fear of its celebration lost, the fear led to the development of customs to keep the spirits at bay, lighting huge fires and making sacrificial offerings.
Halloween in fact, is derived from the old English 'holy' or 'sacred,' so Hallows' Eve or Halloween meaning "the evening of holy persons" and refers to the evening before All Saints' Day.
So, the day we don on the spookiest costumes, go treat or trick treating and light Jack-lanterns at the porch to ward off evil spirits is a mixture of Celtic religious ideas and Christian martyrology.
It is hence safe to say that All Saint’s Day is a stretch of the Halloween celebration, this day, however is for the saints and martyrs throughout Christian history. In Eastern Orthodox and associated Eastern Catholic churches, All Saints' Day is observed on the first Sunday following Pentecost.
So, Why do Christians celebrate All Saint’s Day?
Celebrated mostly in parts of the UK and European countries like Italy, Germany, Poland and Sweden, All Saints' Day has been a Christian tradition since the 4th century AD. It was however only in the 609Ad’s that Pope Boniface IV decided to remember all martyrs. Today, we celebrate the day to remember the loved ones gone by laying flowers and light candles on their graves.
Originally the Feast of All Holy Martyrs, as it was then known, was celebrated on May 13. Other beliefs also state that the day was commemorated in April in the mid-9th Century, but was eventually changed to 1 November as we know and celebrate today.
In Catholic tradition, the holiday honours those who have passed on to the Kingdom of Heaven. While in the Methodist tradition, the day is celebrated to give gratitude to God for the lives and deaths of the saints that were, is put on this earth.
Stressing the importance of All Saint’s Day, Pope John Paul II in 2003 said, “We celebrate today the solemnity of All Saints. This invites us to turn out gaze to the immense multitude of those who have already reached the blessed land, and points us on the path that will lead us to that destination.”