Steadfast Lutherans put out an excellent article this past week, detailing how Halloween (the celebration, if not all of its practices) is actually Christian, not pagan, in origin. I post here a sample, but you can read it in its entirety (with hyperlinks for further research) here.
Where Did Halloween Start in the Christian Church?
In the first three centuries after Christ’s resurrection, the lives of the martyrs of the Church were commemorated on the day and in the place where they were killed.
There were so many who were killed because of their faith in Christ during those centuries. Throughout the Christian Church different days were set aside not only for each martyr, but a special day for all Saints.
The earliest reference to a day being dedicated to the commemoration of All the Martyrs and All Saints of the Christian Church comes from the 2nd century. The document is titled “The Martyrdom of Polycarp.” Polycarp was a Christian killed because he would not deny Christ. The document says:
Accordingly, we afterwards took up his bones, as being more precious than the most exquisite jewels, and more purified than gold, and deposited them in a fitting place, whither, being gathered together, as opportunity is allowed us, with joy and rejoicing, the Lord shall grant us to celebrate the anniversary of his martyrdom, both in memory of those who have already finished their course, and for the exercising and preparation of those yet to walk in their steps. (Chapter 18) [Emphasis added]
Later, a Christian Bishop named Ephraim the Syrian mentions a common All Saints’ Day in 373. In 397 St. Basil of Caesarea chose a day when the churches of his bishopric would honor the memories of all Saints known, and unknown, alive or in heaven. Later, John Chrysostommentions a common day of memorial for the Saints in 407 AD.
In the year 609 or 610 Pope Boniface IV established a date for All Saints’ Day on May 13th. And later, in the early 700s AD, Pope Gregory III changed the date to November 1st. Decrees like this took some time to propagate from Rome to the more remote areas where the Church was found. But the change in date had nothing to do with any pagan practices. Pope Gregory IV extended the celebration on this day to the entire Western Church in the early 800s. And again, the change took time as it spread from Rome.
The point is this: a common day for commemorating the Saints has been around throughout the Christian Church from very early times. And the fact that it falls on November 1st today has nothing to do with paganism.
OK, so what does this have to do with Halloween? In the Bible the day begins at sundown or evening. This is why we have Christmas Eve. Halloween is All Hallows’ Eve‘, that is All Saints’ Evening. Halloween is the beginning of All Saints’ Day starting at sundown on October 31st.
These days we have “Trick or Treat,” costumes sometimes too gruesome to describe: witches, goblins, werewolves, vampires, zombies, Lady Gaga; Jack-O-Lanterns, skeletons, spooky sounds, grave stones, candy and a celebration of gore and all that is un-Holy.
Many of the Christian Churches in the Reformed traditions claim that Halloween is a pagan celebration. Very often they do this by referring to Neopagan and Wiccan writings. And there are many in the Neopagan and Wiccan communities who have tried hard to claim Halloween as an ancient pagan holiday that had been stolen by the Christian Church.
Don’t ever expect truth from Neopagans and Wiccans. They already live in a fantasy world created by their own fakelore.
The claim is that the old folklore demonstrates where we got Halloween. But folklore does not support the Neopagan or the Wiccan claims about Halloween. Instead they depend on fakelore: invented, and fake, pretend folklore, like Pecos Bill and the song “Follow the Drinking Gourd.”
The typical claims in current sources are that Halloween come from “ancient Celtic practices, Catholic and Roman religious rituals and European folk traditions.” With respect to the origins of All Saints’ Day these claim are false. With respect to the modern re-paganizing of Halloween, the Neopagan version of Halloween doesn’t really come from ancient pagan sources. It comes from modern sources that pretend to be old but are not. These modern sources are simply fiction.
– Via Steadfast Lutherans
And, if that weren’t enough Halloween goodness for one post, Lutheran Satire put out this little jewel as well: