Halloween Traditions Date Back Centuries

by Curt Kovener

Many Halloween traditions may have originated with the ancient Celts and their priests, the druids. Other civilizations adopted and changed the ancient rituals, such as bobbing for apples or donning disguises.
“Our Halloween celebrations are the remnants of the pre-Christian Celtic celebrations,” according to Fred Suppe, a Ball State history professor and an expert in Celtic folklore. “The Celts can be traced back to 800 B.C. to what is now southern Germany and include the ancestors of the Scottish, Irish, Manx, Welsh, Cornish and Bretons.”
Particular motifs of modern-day Halloween such as the date and time it is celebrated, children trick-or-treating, the jack-o-lantern and bobbing for apples are related to Celtic traditions.
When Christianity was introduced to the Celts, church leaders began a campaign to persuade them to abandon their pagan celebrations and adopt the Christian calendar. Because these traditions were culturally ingrained, the church provided an alternative holy day— All Saints’ Day on Nov. 1.
The evening before All Saints’ Day became “All Hallows’ Eve,’ with the word ‘hallow’ meaning holy or saint and ‘eve’ meaning the night before.
“All Hallow’s Eve evolved to Halloween,” the college history professor tells us.
So if you have been following along, Halloween was a pagan holiday which the early church cleansed with All Saints Day but today’s church leaders have determined to ignore the early church sanctioned holy day and label its preceding day as demonic.
The origin for trick-or-treating comes from Scotland, where young men in their late teens donned disguises after the harvest.
“The Celts called them ‘guisers,’ which is where we get the word ‘geezer’,” Suppe said, “The young guisers would march around a house and demand hospitality, which evolved into small children asking for treats.”
As an official card carrying government approved ‘old geezer,’ I sometime meander about the house seeking out treats of adult beverages.
Today youngsters are cautioned against ‘trick or treat’ but encouraged to take part in the same tooth decaying activity called ‘trunk or treat’— righteously cleansed and sanctioned by church leaders and seasonally held in church, school and courthouse squares.
Some years past, a now former minister in town told me ‘trunk or treat’ was a more appropriate name and a ‘Harvest party’ was better than a Halloween party because of the long tradition and activities associated with the dead & spirits.
When I asked the Reverend how he reconciled his efforts at cleansing our youth with the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead and whether he ever preached from the pulpit about the Holy Ghost—both things he didn’t want our youngsters to be exposed to— I was met with an all too common response.
“That’s different,” was his righteous response.
“Because it suits your purpose?”
My question was the close of our conversation as the padre walked away.