The Origins, History and Meaning of Halloween

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Dear Catholic Exchange:

As a family, we would like the truth regarding Halloween. We have not celebrated this “holiday” because we thought it was originally “All Hollows’ Eve,” which we believe to be a part of All Saints Day—a day to celebrate those who have died before us. Halloween, as far as we know, was created as a pagan holiday, and is a night filled with activities that are anything but holy. Since the origins and practices of Halloween aren’t inline with Scripture’s instruction to avoid taking part in things having to do with divination, we have shied away from its celebrations. However, yesterday in our Church bulletin this was written:

Is Halloween a pagan holiday? Should Catholics refrain from observing it?

In fact Halloween has Christian origins. In 835 Pope Gregory IV moved the commemoration of martyrs (later all Saints Day) from May 13 to November 1. The night before became known as All Hollows Eve or “holy Evening,” and eventually Halloween. (November 2 became All Souls Day.) Hundreds of years ago in Ireland, farmers prepared for the All Saints Day and All Souls Day the night before by going door-to-door collecting food and goods for a village feast and bonfire. Those who contributed were promised prosperity; those who didn’t received threats of bad luck. The Irish Catholics who immigrated in the 1800s brought this practice of trick-or-treating with them. Halloween can be a good chance to focus on the three holidays as celebrations of the communion of Saints. It’s a time to remember the believers who have gone to Heaven before us and the hope we have of joining them.

If you have any information regarding the truth, please pass it our way.


The McKeough Family


Dear Catholic Exchange:

Research on the origin of Halloween is confusing. Can you tell me how much of the origin is with the Druids?

Thank You,

Fr. Joe Angelini

Dear Fr. Angelini and the McKeough Family,

Allow me to direct you attention to our Faith Fact entitled, All Hallows’ Eve. I believe this will cover the issue to your satisfaction. If you have further questions or would like more information about Catholics United for the Faith, please call us at 1-800-MY-FAITH (693-2484). May God bless your day.

United in the Faith,

Brenda Suprenant

Information Services

Catholics United for the Faith

827 North Fourth Street

Steubenville, OH 43952

800-MY-FAITH (800-693-2484)

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