The Mystery of Halloween: How It Reverted Back to Paganism

10-08-2020From the desk of Fr. Villa

There are mysteries about Halloween. Why is it like it is? Is there really an occult underpinning? Does it have any supernatural ramifications? One little-known fact is that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses -- his rejection of Catholic teaching -- on the door of the Wittenberg church on October 31, 1517. Those theses led of course to breaking away from the Catholic Church as Protestantism was born, soon itself to splinter into dozens of Protestant denominations. A former monk and priest, Luther preached not only against the sale of indulgences and corruption in the Church (which were real), but also against the Mass, the meaning of Holy Communion, the Pope, and saints as intercessors with Jesus.

This is crucial because -- ironically -- it helped to transform Halloween (the very day, coincidentally, that he'd nailed those theses!). "Halloween" is an abbreviation or corruption of "All Hallow's E'en," the old English saying "All Hallows Eve." It was called that because it preceded All Saints Day (called "All Hallows," or "All Hallowmas"). In old English the word "Hallow" meant "holy." It is not something we associate with October 31 any longer. That all changed once Protestantism removed the focus on saints and the "holiday" reverted to its original paganism. Indeed, Halloween actually dates back 3,000 years to druid rituals, specifically the pagan celtic festival of Samhain. To commemorate the event, druids had 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. They believed that on the night before the new year (which they considered as starting with the advent of cold weather), the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. And they sought the intercession of deities that were not of the Holy Spirit. In order to placate the "spirits," humans were sometimes sacrificed (a mainstay of satanism).

It was Pope Boniface IV who moved in the seventh century to strip it of that paganism and transform it into a Christian feast honoring the saints. Two hundred years later, "All Souls Day" was added -- a time to pray for the departed, instead of trying to conjure them. Pope Gregory III set November 1 as the date for All Hallowmas. After Luther, however, its eve reverted back -- complete with men in animal costumes as they were in old pagan times and incorporating the darkest aspect of paganism: witchcraft.

It is not to blame Luther for it all. An entire culture has transformed the "holiday." And in fact Protestantism spawned movements that in some cases would brilliantly approach the very issue of spiritual warfare. Today it is the charismatic, pentecostal faction of Protestantism that speaks loudest against the darker side of the holiday. But the general fruit of division was not good, and Halloween's fall from the "Eve of All Saints" to a focus on the dark side was one of those fruits, at least in part. So was the dismissal of praying for souls in purgatory. The dead roamed the earth, believed the celts -- and we see today how that theme not only has returned but is growing at a time when we should not be invoking such spirits but rather pray for their release! All Souls Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, but dressing up in costumes as saints and angels.

An idea this is! For it is time to finish the work of Boniface and take back the holiday – which, in money spent, is now one of the top six holidays in America (in one reckoning number six, in another, second -- after Christmas).Those who believe it is a harmless time may be right if there is no occult tinge to the decor and costumes in their households, nor any homage to darkness, but the fact remains that satanists and witches take the day very seriously.

If it is just fun and games, why are the deep occultists so intent on it? Wouldn't it be better to have it as a time when kids dressed as saints and instead of dark revelry -- of conjuring -- we initiated, at this time, novenas for the deceased and let the saints come marching back in? Slip in holy cards, medals, or rosaries with your trick-or-treat candy, and pray for each kid.