Halloween or Hallowe’en (a contraction of All Hallows’ Evening), also known as All Halloween, All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve, is a celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. It begins the three-day observance of All Hallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed. It originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts.

Ancient Origins of Halloween

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. Samhain was the first and most important of the four quarter days in the medieval Gaelic calendar and was celebrated on 31 October – 1 November in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. To commemorate the event, Druids (member of the high-ranking professional class in ancient Celtic cultures) built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes.

Christian Influence

Halloween is the evening before the Christian holy days of All Hallows’ on 1 November and All Souls’ Day on 2 November, thus giving the holiday on 31 October the full name of All Hallows’ Eve. Since the time of the early Church, major feasts in Christianity (such as Christmas, Easter and Pentecost) had vigils that began the night before, as did the feast of All Hallows’ These three days are collectively called All Hallowtide and are a time for honouring the saints and praying for the recently departed souls who have yet to reach Heaven. By the end of the 12th century they had become holy days of obligation across Europe and involved such traditions as ringing church bells for the souls in purgatory. In addition, “it was customary for criers dressed in black to parade the streets, ringing a bell of mournful sound and calling on all good Christians to remember the poor souls.

What does the Bible say?

The Bible does not mention Halloween. However, both the ancient origins of Halloween and its modern customs show it to be a celebration based on false beliefs about the dead and invisible spirits, or demons.

‘’There must never be anyone among you who…consults ghosts or spirits, or calls up the dead’’ – Deuteronomy 18:10-12

The traditions and importance of Halloween vary greatly among countries that observe it. Halloween activities include trick-or-treating, attending Halloween costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, divination games, playing pranks, visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories, and watching horror films.

Carving pumpkin