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Category: Holidays / Topics: Halloween History Holidays Popular Culture Religion Spirituality, Seeking God

Halloween and Hallowing

by Dan Seagren

Posted: October 27, 2019

Back to the beginning…

Guess what? I was born on Halloween but never fully realized all it meant. In 1700 October 31 was observed especially with dressing up in disguise, trick-or-treating, and displaying jack-o'-lanterns during the evening. That was short for All Hallow Even (All Saint's Eve) also known as All Hallows' Day, Hallowmas, a Feast for All Christian Saintsknown and unknown on November 1.

There are ancient traditions for Halloween that have evolved into modern times that have little resemblance which makes it difficult to differentiate what it was and what it is today. Explanations vary as well between pagan and religious activities. Rather than create an accurate description, lets suggest that the two events, Halloween and All Saint's Eve were at one time religious related but today are much less so.

One theory perhaps is that All Saints refers to Christians recognized as exceptionally Godly. By Saint it means that in their lifetime, male or female, although a recognized Saint (righteous) was more thought of as male although many Saints certainly were women as well. Since it is easy to forget places, things, people and definitive acts All Saints, not some or a few, dead or alive, were honored lest they be forgotten. Evenings more available than daytime for many, so celebrations in their honor supposedly were then which doesn't rule out other times and places.

The hallowing on the day before did lead up to the Saints day with its trick or treating going from house to house asking for food, a soul-mass cake, costumes, jack o' lanterns, bon fires, apple bobbing and playing pranks. Some of these are visible today with different dimensions like trick or treating and ridding the area of witches for the following All Saint's Day.

The memorializing on the day following included church services, lighting of candles on graves, abstaining from meat and eating certain vegetarian foods, potato pancakes and soul cake, and a vigil a period of purposeful sleeplessness, an occasion for devotional watching.

Not all of Christianity observes its own form of All Saint's Eve nowadays and Halloween is no longer a Christian event but primarily secularized with some recognizable events from the past. Sharing my birthday as a child on Halloween, going to the door for trick or treaters and finding time for the birthday cake is a fascinating memory. What do you remember when a child?


Dan Seagren is an active retiree whose writings reflect his life as a Pastor, author of several books, and service as a Chaplain in a Covenant Retirement Community.

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Posted: October 27, 2019

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