Have you noticed a sudden rise in Halloween celebrations within Pakistan? Halloween was never celebrated in the past; now 31 October is an important date to dish-gazing burger-munching teenagers. The purpose of this article is to look at Halloween’s true meaning, origins and effects on the gullible masses.
Last October my daughter begged me to buy her a Halloween costume. She said the schoolteacher had asked all children to participate. I tried explaining to the five-year old impressionable mind but she wept when I disallowed her to celebrate Halloween. Meanwhile I wrote a letter of protest to the school’s principal. The class-teacher appalled me with her ignorance when I spoke to her. She revealed, “On the eve of 31 October or Halloween Day, all the spirits descend for an earthly visit. We are merely exposing kids to new things.”
As it was too late to disrupt the party, I sent some literature to the school’s administrator to help her understand why I opposed the affair. Shortly afterwards, newspapers carried photos and reports covering Halloween celebrations in Lahore. What was most distressing was that even government officials attended such gatherings. Recently, Kinnaird College, Lahore, advertised the celebration of Halloween by organizing a pop concert. Countless others joined in elsewhere. Nobody stopped to think before wearing a Dracula-mask or pretending to be a witch. What hope could one have from misled leaders to protect the cultural and religious borders?
The Distant Past
Halloween means ’hallow’ (make or honour as holy). It is celebrated a day before All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints Day of November 1. The ancient Druids had a three-day autumn celebration at the beginning of November. They believed that on the last night of October spirits of the dead roamed abroad, and they lighted bonfires to drive them away. In ancient Rome the festival of Pomona, goddess of fruits and gardens, occurred at about this time of year. It was an occasion of rejoicing associated with the harvest. Nuts and apples, as symbols of the winter store of fruit, were roasted before huge bonfires. These agricultural and pastoral celebrations also had a sinister aspect, with ghosts and witches thought to be on the prowl.
Even after November 1 became a Christian feast day honouring all saints, many people clung to the old pagan beliefs and customs that had grown up about Halloween. Some tried to foretell the future on that night by performing such rites as jumping over lighted candles. In the British Isles great bonfires blazed for the Celtic festival of Samhain. Laughing bands of young people disguised in grotesque masks carved lanterns from turnips and carried them through the villages.
The Romans made Italy, Gaul (present day France), and much of Britain into Roman provinces. The Carthaginians overpowered the Celts in Spain, and German tribes drove the Celts out of the Rhine Valley. Following the Roman conquest, the Anglo-Saxon invasion wiped out most traces of Celtic culture in England. Only in Brittany, the Isle of Man, Wales, Ireland, and the Scottish Highlands were left with traces of Celtic cultural folklore in the Breton, Manx, Welsh, Erse, and Gaelic languages. A prayer in Cornish (Celtic dialect of Cornwall, closely related to Breton and Welsh) goes like this:
From ghoulies and ghosties, and long-leggty beasties and things that go bump in the night, good Lord deliver.
The Christian predecessor of Halloween, the Roman Catholic Church’s All Saints’ Day was originally celebrated in May, not November 1. In A. D. 608 the Roman emperor appeased the populace of newly conquered heathen territories by allowing them to combine their ancient ritual of Samhain Day with the newly dated All Saints’ Day. Rome’s pantheon, a temple built to worship a multiplicity of gods, was converted into a church. While the Christians celebrated the death of departed saints, the pagans devoted the preceding night to their Lord of the Dead.
The choosing of 31 October is no coincidence. The Celtic calendar celebrated four cross-quarter days. The first on February 2 was known as Ground-Hog Day honouring Brigit, the pagan goddess of healing. The second a May holiday called Beltane was witchcraft’s time to plant. On this day the Druids performed magical rites to encourage the growth of crops. The third, an August harvest festival in honour of the sun god, commemorated the shining one, Lugh. The first three celebrated passing of seasons, times of planting as well earth’s death and rebirth, while the last, Samhain Day marked the coming of winter. More rituals followed in which the cauldron symbolized the abundance of the goddess. It was a season of superstition and spirit conjurations.
To the Druids, October 31 was the night Samhain returned with the spirits of the dead. They had to be appeased or ’treated’ or the living would be tricked. Huge bonfires were set on hilltops to frighten away evil spirits and placate supernatural powers that controlled the process of nature.
The originators of Halloween, Celts and Druids, dominated most of Western Europe; Celtic priests were called Druids, and their religion, Druidism. Only men of good family could become Druids. Membership was highly prized because Druids did not have to fight or pay taxes. They sacrificed criminals to their gods. The Druids were also magicians and astrologers.
By the late nineteen hundreds, the Irish introduced Halloween to America, and by the late nineteenth century, its customs had become popular. It was an occasion to overturn outhouses, inflict property damage and indulge in deviltry that wouldn’t be tolerated at other times of the year.
Today children carve faces on hollowed-out pumpkins and put lighted candles inside to make jack-o’-lanterns. Halloween celebrations reflect many of these early customs. Stores and homes display orange and black figures of witches, bats, black cats, and pumpkins. People dress in fanciful outfits go to costume parties, where old-fashioned games like bobbing for apples in tubs of water may be a part of the festivities. Children put on costumes and masks and go from house to house demanding ’trick or treat.’ The treat, usually candy, is generally given and the trick rarely played. Some parents feel this custom is dangerous. There have been numerous instances in which sharp objects or poisons have been found in candy bars and apples. To provide an alternative to begging for candy from strangers, many communities schedule special, supervised parties and events at Halloween. Even the United Nations has used the Halloween observance to collect money for its children’s fund.
Many devil worshippers and occult groups now ritualistically recognize Halloween as the Devil’s Day throughout America. Over sixty percent of Halloween costumes are sold to adults who become outrageous exhibitionists. One of every four people will dress up as some kind of character. For psychic readers, clairvoyants and self-proclaimed visionaries, it’s the busiest time of the year. Publishers of books on astrology and witchcraft indicate a dramatic increase in sales. Salem, Massachusetts, home of American witchcraft, now celebrates a ’haunted happening’ at Halloween to expand its summer tourist season. Concerned parents in America report a phenomenal increase in the demand for black cats. Fearing that the animals are being used in bloody sacrificial rituals, the Anti-Cruelty Society has, therefore, made black cats off limits for adoption during the Halloween season.
Symbols Of Satan
The traditional jack o’ lantern came from the tale of a notorious man named Jack, who was turned away from both heaven and hell. Consigned to roam the earth as a spirit, he put a glowing coal into a carved-out turnip to light his way through the night. The harbinger (which became a pumpkin) symbolized a damned soul. It’s colours orange and black are connected to the occult commemorative masses for the dead held in November. The unbleached beeswax candles are orange and black cloths cover the ceremonial- caskets.
Other obvious ties with the occult are:
1. Halloween costumes are taken from the Celtic druid idea that ceremonial participants should wear animal heads and animal skins to acquire the strength of the beast they portrayed and to ward off evil spirits.
2. The trick or treat came from the Irish tradition when a man led a procession to levy contributions from farmers, lest their crops be cursed by demons.
3. Dunking for apples came from the old practice of predicting the future. The participant who successfully clenched an apple between his teeth could count on fulfilling romance with the lover of his choice.
4. Cats represented incarnated humans, malevolent spirits or the ’familiars’ (demon friends) of witches.
5. Hazelnuts were used in romance forecasts. Some Halloween food had objects placed inside as a means of fortune telling.
Since most Christians will unknowingly take credit for Halloween’s creation, I have some news for my brethren. The word Halloween does not occur in the Bible at all. Jeremiah 10:02 clearly warns:
Do not follow the ways of other heathens (pagans).
The Bible also contains numerous warnings regarding prohibition on worship of idols and assigns death penalty for sorcerers and black magicians.
The Holy Quran contains a surah (chapter) called Jinn. Elsewhere Allah warns with clear references to satanic forces. An authentic Hadith (saying of prophet Mohammed, p.b.u.h) also indicates how Muslims, through lack of faith, may follow other nations to the extent that ’If the disbelievers entered a hole in the ground, Muslims would follow.’ Through disobedience, a believer falls from grace as disregarding Allah’s command is a satanic character trait.
With today’s life in the fast lane, most parents hardly have the time to even look at the report-cards of their children; leave aside educate themselves. Continuously exposing impressionable young minds to novel things and ways of life takes its psychological toll. Halloween is not funny business as Satan gets the last laugh. Allowing children to have fun this way is a legless excuse. The educational institutions, the ministry of education, the parents and today’s youth need to understand the implications of such follies.
Halloween’s negative aspects are firmly rooted in witchcraft, the devil, darkness, skeletons, fear and terror. Sensible anti-occult individuals must step forward to disallow Halloween celebrations. Children are never too young to learn that a day should not be dedicated to devil.
Tahir Gul Hasan holds the copyrights to his work. Written permission of the author is required for reproducing or re-printing his work on any medium. The author wishes to thank Bob Larson for his research printed in the book: Satanism—the seduction of America’s youth.