1 day ago 11th century 'souling' has evolved into modern-day trick or-treating from the Celtic pagan festival of Samhain, meaning 'Summer's End' which.
What is “souling"? Ryan Wonders, “Why do people trick or treat on Halloween? The custom of trick-or-treating started in the western United States and.
In addition, a quarter of all annual candy sales occur during the Halloween season in the United States. What is it about Halloween that makes October 31 so popular? Perhaps it's the mystery—or just the candy? Perhaps the excitement of a new costume?
Whatever the draw, Halloween is here to stay. But what does the Bible say about it? Is Halloween wrong or evil? Are there any clues in the Bible as to whether a Christian should celebrate Halloween?
First of all, understand that Halloween is mostly a western custom and it has no direct reference in the Bible. However, there are Biblical principles that directly relate to the celebration of Halloween. Perhaps the best way to understand how Halloween relates to the Bible is to look at the meaning of Halloween and its history.
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The word Halloween literally means the evening before All Hallows Day (or All Saint’s Day) celebrated on November 1. Halloween is also the shortened name of Allhalloween, All Hallows’ Evening and All Saint’s Eve which is celebrated on October 31. The origin and meaning of Halloween are derived from ancient Celtic harvest festivals, but more recently we think of Halloween as a night filled with candy, trick-or-treating, pumpkins, ghosts and death.
The origin of Halloween as we know it, began over 1900 years ago in England, Ireland, and Northern France. It was a Celtic celebration of the new year, called Samhain which occurred on November 1. The Celtic druids revered it as the biggest holiday of the year and emphasized that day as the time when the souls of the dead supposedly could mingle with the living. Bonfires were a large aspect of this holiday as well.
Samhain remained popular until St. Patrick and other Christian missionaries arrived in the area. As the population began to convert to Christianity the holiday began to lose its popularity. However, instead of eradicating pagan practices such as “Halloween” or Samhain, the church instead used these holidays with a Christian twist to bring paganism and Christianity together, making it easier for local populations to convert to the state religion.
Another tradition is the druidic belief that during the night of November 1, demons, witches, and evil spirits freely roamed the earth with joy to greet the arrival of “their season”—the long nights and early dark of the winter months. The demons had their fun with poor mortals that night, frightening, harming, and even playing all kinds of mean tricks on them. The only way, it seemed, for scared humans to escape the persecution of the demons was to offer them things they liked, especially fancy foods and sweets. Or, in order to escape the fury of these horrible creatures, a human could disguise himself as one of them and join in their roaming. In this way, they would recognize the human as a demon or witch and the human would not be bothered that night.
During the Roman empire, there was the custom of eating or giving away fruit, especially apples, on Halloween. It spread to neighboring countries; to Ireland and Scotland from Britain, and to the Slavic countries from Austria. It is probably based upon a celebration of the Roman goddess Pomona, to whom gardens and orchards were dedicated. Since the annual Feast of Pomona was held on November 1, the relics of that observance became part of our Halloween celebration, for instance, the familiar tradition of “dunking” for apples.
Today costumes take the place of disguises and candy has replaced fruits and other fancy foods as children go door-to-door trick-or-treating. Originally trick-or-treating began as “souling,” when children would go door-to-door on Halloween, with soul cakes, singing and saying prayers for the dead. Over the course of history Halloween’s visible practices have changed with the culture of the day, but the purpose of honoring the dead, veiled in fun and festivities, has remained the same. The question remains, is celebrating Halloween bad or unbiblical?
As a logical thinking person, consider for a moment what you are celebrating and what Halloween is all about. Is the holiday uplifting? Is Halloween pure? Is it lovely, praiseworthy, or of good report? Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Is Halloween based on godly themes such as the idea of peace, freedom and salvation or does the holiday bring to mind feelings of fear, oppression and bondage?
Additionally, does the Bible sanction witchcraft, witches, and sorcery? On the contrary, the Bible makes it clear that these practices are an abomination to the Lord. The Bible goes on to say in Leviticus 20:27 that anyone who practiced witchcraft, soothsaying, sorcery should be killed. Deuteronomy 18:9-13 adds, “When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you ... one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord.”
Let’s look at what the Bible adds to this topic in Ephesians 5:11, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” This text is calling us to not only have no association with any type of dark activity BUT ALSO to shed light on this topic to those around us. As stated earlier in this article, Halloween was not exposed by the church for what it was, but rather was incorporated into church holy days. Are Christians responding in the same way today?
As you think about Halloween—its origins and what it stands for—would it be best to spend time dwelling upon its themes or to shed light upon what lies below the surface of this holiday's celebration? God is calling humanity to follow Him and to “come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:17).
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It’s almost that time of year when underaged kids get into costume and traipse around the neighborhood ringing doorbells and begging for treats. When you think about it, trick or treating is kind of a weird thing. Where did it come from anyway?
Today I Found Out discovered that the practice began with the Celtic tradition of celebrating the end of the year by dressing up as evil spirits. The Celts believed that, as we moved from one year to the next, the dead and the living would overlap, and demons would roam the earth again. So dressing up as demons was a defense mechanism. If you encountered a real demon roaming the Earth, they would think you were one of them.
Fast forward to when the Catholic Church was stealing everybody’s holidays and trying to convert them. They turned the demon dress-up party into “All Hallows Eve,” “All Soul’s Day,” and “All Saints Day” and had people dress up as saints, angels and still a few demons. Today I Found Out writes:
As for the trick or treating, or “guising” (from “disguising”), traditions, beginning in the Middle-Ages, children and sometimes poor adults would dress up in the aforementioned costumes and go around door to door during Hallowmas begging for food or money in exchange for songs and prayers, often said on behalf of the dead. This was called “souling” and the children were called “soulers”.
You might think that this practice then simply migrated along with Europeans to the United States. But trick or treating didn’t re-emerge until the 1920s and 1930s. It paused for a bit during World War II because of sugar rations, and it’s now back in full force.
The term “trick or treat” dates back to 1927. Today I Found Out explains:
The earliest known reference to “trick or treat”, printed in the November 4, 1927 edition of the Blackie, Alberta Canada Herald, talks of this,
Hallowe’en provided an opportunity for real strenuous fun. No real damage was done except to the temper of some who had to hunt for wagon wheels, gates, wagons, barrels, etc., much of which decorated the front street. The youthful tormentors were at back door and front demanding edible plunder by the word “trick or treat” to which the inmates gladly responded and sent the robbers away rejoicing.
The British hate Halloween, apparently. In 2006, a survey found that over half of British homeowners turn off their lights and pretend not to be home on Halloween. Yet another reason by the United States is happy to be free from British rule. No funs.
More from Smithsonian.com:
Wednesday Roundup: Phantoms, Costumes and Halloween Galore
Halloween Costume Ideas from the Collections
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Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.Read more from this author | Follow @Roseveleth
With the night for trick-or-treating officially here, there may be another among the sea of orange ones - and they have a special meaning.
If there are ghosts, goblins, witches, astronauts, cartoon characters, and a wild variety of oddly dressed creatures visiting your door asking for candy, chances are it's Halloween.
Before you shell out the sweets, most of these visitors probably shout “trick or treat!" But why do they do that?
In the United States and Canada, trick-or-treating has been a popular Halloween activity since the late 1950s. Children of all ages dress up in costumes and travel from house to house to receive treats in response to their call of “trick or treat!"
The phrase is a subtle suggestion that if a treat (like candy) is given, then the child will not perform a “trick" (mischief) on the owner of the house. This popular Halloween custom has its origins in the ancient practices of “souling" and “guising."
In the Middle Ages, poor people in Ireland and Britain would go “souling" on Hallowmas (November 1). “Souling" consisted of going door to door asking for food in return for saying prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2).
“Guising" — the custom of wearing costumes, masks, or other forms of disguise — began in Scotland in the late 19th century. Scottish children hoped to prevent evil spirits from doing harm by dressing like them. They carried lanterns made out of hollow turnips and at various homes asked for treats, such as cakes, fruit, and money.
Immigrants brought these local customs to North America in the early 20th century. The term “trick or treat" first appeared in print in 1927 in Canada. No one knows for sure how or why that particular term came to be.
The custom of trick-or-treating started in the western United States and Canada and slowly moved eastward. The custom stalled during World War II because sugar was rationed during that time.
From the 1950s onward, however, the custom picked up steam and has been the central focus of Halloween ever since. Today, Halloween trick-or-treating is big business.
The National Confectioners Association estimates that over 75 percent of U.S. adults give out candy every year to trick-or-treaters. They also believe 64 percent of Americans will go trick-or-treating or participate in some way in Halloween activities in 2015.
As recently as 2015, Halloween candy, costumes, and related products brought in almost $7 billion in revenue.
Hundreds of years ago, people dressed up as saints and went door to door, which is the origin of Halloween costumes and trick-or-treating.