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Thomas Barrett

English II
Dr. Sara Kaiser
12/14/2015
Samhain to Halloween
Roughly two thousand years ago in the Gaelic dominant parts of the earth, October 31st
represented the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the winter. This day then turned
into the festival known as Samhain (pronounced Sow-in throughout the Celtic lands of Europe).
Traditionally, this festival took place during the sunsets of October 31st to the sunsets of
November, which marked it halfway between the autumn equinox and winter solstice. The
festival is believed to have Celtic pagan origins and evidence does exist that this was an
important date since the ancient times of Ireland.
Not only was this day considered the "New Year" of ancient Irish culture, but it was also
believed that on this night, the veil of the mortal realm and the underworld was at its thinnest and
that spirits of the afterlife could walk the mortal realm again on this night, which brought the
festival to also be considered the Day of the Dead. A common ritual practiced on this night was
dressing up in costumes and masks to ward off and confuse evil spirits who would escape the
underworld on this night, as seen today. Other traditions included leaving food on your doorstep
to ward off the unwanted spirits from invading your home. This was usually viewed as a peace
offering to the spirits they didn't want intruding. It was also a tradition for farmers and ranchers
to take their crops and cattle into barns and other storage buildings and ask for their gods
protection to them from the long harsh winters that would follow. This also introduced tribal

bonfires to ward off escaped souls from the thinned veil. They would also circle this bonfire by
placing their ancestors skulls in a circle around it. This practice was known as the ancient Druid
Practice. These bonfires embers were also used the next day for the villages homes to keep
them heated for the winter.
In Irish mythology, Samhain was one of the four seasonal festivals of the year. In a 10th
century tale "Tochmarc Emire", it lists Samhain as the first of four-quarter days. The festival of
the Ulaid at Samhain lasted a whole week, and the three days before and after. Villages would
gather on the "Plain of Muirthemni", which was located in North Ireland, where meetings,
games, activities and feastings were held. These tales also suggested that alcohol was a major
part of the feasts and that in almost every tale, drunkenness was featured to take place on
Samhain. In the coming of 43 AD, the Romans had conquered most of the Celtic territories.
Following with them, two other holidays came: Feralia (the Roman Day of the Dead) and
Pomona (The Roman goddess of fruit). Pomona's holy symbol was the Apple, and it is believed
that this influenced the activity of bobbing for apples into the Samhain festival.
With different sources and evidence pointing the connection of the Roman Catholic
Church and Samhain, it is difficult to say what really happened between the two. Some sources
say that in the mid 800s, when Christianity started to blossom forth in the Middle Ages, the
Roman Catholic Church started to incorporate modified versions of the older religious traditions
in order to get more followers of their faith. Pope Gregory IV introduced All Hallows Eve, also
called Halloween, which was originally meant to substitute Samhain entirely.

Other sources claim that Pope Gregory IV wasn't even aware of the Celtic holiday;
Instead Catholics were accustomed to solemnizing the anniversary of a martyr's death. In the 4th
century, groups of Martyrs were executed which led to joint commemorations. Feeling that
martyrs should have been revered instead of slaughtered, the Catholic Church appointed a
common celebration day for them, which started in 373AD. Saints were also added to this listed
and a process of canonization was established. It was Pope Boniface IV who established the
annual feast day. It was Gregory III who created All Saints Day for the first of November and it
was Pope Gregory IV who extended the holiday to the entire Catholic Church.
However, there are some common beliefs that the Catholic Church saw the festival of
Samhain related to Hell and the traditions and rituals considered Satanic. Although these theories
are rather extreme and have no solid evidence to back it up, these sources state that Halloween
began over two thousand years ago with the Celtic Druids, where their practice of Witchcraft and
Satanism influenced the holiday. Samhain is said to be a night of celebrating death and hell, and
to the Druids, this was their most important ritual, where they would sacrifice humans. The
Druids believed that the veil that separated the dead from the mortal realm opened on this night
and tell the villages that these spirits would possess them. In the Celts fear, they dressed up as
other demons, spirits, and ghosts to fool the dead that they were other spirits and to leave them
alone. The theories also state that Druids would sacrifice humans and commit other rituals during
the night of Samhain. These rituals included children and infant sacrifices of blood, and that the

Druids would eat the flesh and drink the blood of their victims. Stated in Harpers Encyclopedia
of Mystical & Paranormal Experience, They sacrificed victims by shooting them with arrows,
impaling them on stakes, stabbing them, slitting their throats over cauldrons.
These theories go one saying the same thing about how Halloween is a holiday to Baal
(the first principle king of Hell) worship or devil worship. However, even theistic Satanists say
that this theory is both inaccurate and even offensive to their beliefs. The website Angelfire,
which is all about the theistic belief in Satanism, has a webpage about Samhain that mentions
how these theories of Samhain being a festival of occult affairs was all originally Christian-made
stories to blaspheme Satan and then talk about what Samhain really is and how the customs
practiced really came to be.
Although theistic Satanists have denied any connection towards Halloween being
considered a Satanic holiday to begin with. People have still come to believe this theory from
common "before Halloween" traditions. There has been a tradition on the night before
Halloween called "Devil's Night" where pranks and mischief are played throughout the Midwest
and northeastern parts of the United States and even in some parts of Canada. Devil's Night in
Detroit is believed to be the oldest form of Devil's Night there is. There's belief that Devil's Night
Detroit can be traced back to the late 1800s in Ireland, where the night of mischief and pranks
were attributed to the fairies and goblins. In Detroit, the "holiday" originally was just a night of
pranking until the 1900s where these pranks escalated to arson. Halloween has gotten a lot of bad
reputation from a lot of people, most commonly called "Satan's birthday" or a "Satanic Holiday".

It has even gotten to the point that the arch bishop of the catholic church of Poland encouraged
the youth of Poland to shun the holiday for being an anti-Christian holiday because it is pagan
and that it promotes a culture of death.
However, there are many reliable sources as well as culture traditions that both prove the
theory of Halloween and Samhain being either satanic or have occult relations to be false as
Samhain's history predates catholic history as well as Satan and that Halloween was originally
created as a modified Samhain in catholic faith or that it was a day made for the martyrs believed
to be created by Pope Boniface IV. Samhain's original purpose was to honor the ancestors as well
as mark the final harvest for the Celts. As a Samhain prayer states, "Corn has been shucked,
grain has been threshed, herbs have been hung to dry. Grapes have been pressed, potatoes have
been dug, beans have been shelled and canned. It is the harvest season, and food is ready for
winter. We will eat, and we will live, and we will be grateful."

WORKS CITED
Graham, Melinda. All Hallows Eve. Vol. 33. Victorian Homes, 2014. 2-25. Print.
"Poland's Catholic Church Condemns Halloween." Polska Agencja Prawsowa 30 Oct. 2012 .
Print.
Butler, Jenny. "Halloween's Celtic Roots." Archaeology Archive. Archaeological Institute of
America, 27 Oct. 2006. Web. 27 Oct. 2015.
Rogers, Nicholas. Halloween : From Pagan Ritual to Party Night. New York City: Oxford UP,
2002. Print.
"The History Of Halloween!" The History of Halloween. 4 Oct. 2015. Web. 5 Nov. 2015.
Pfandl, Gerhard. "What Every Christian Should Know About Halloween." Adventist Review
Online. Adventist Review, 23 Oct. 2015. Web. 5 Nov. 2015.
"Halloween Is for Devil Worshippers." Halloween. Let God Be True, 2015. Web. 5 Nov. 2015.

Morton, Lisa. A Hallowe'en Anthology: Literary and Historical Writings over the Centuries.
Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2008. Print.
Morgan Black, Susa. "Deeper Into Samhain." Order of Bards and Druids. 2015. Web. 5 Nov.
2015.
"Samhain." Samhain. 2004. Web. 15 Dec. 2015.
<http://www.angelfire.com/empire/serpentis666/Samhain.html>.

Nichols, Mike. "All Hallow's Eve." All Hallows Eve. 1998. Web. 15 Dec. 2015.
Sternberg, Laura. "Back in the Day: Devil's Night in Detroit." About.com Travel. About.com,
2015. Web. 15 Dec. 2015.
Robinson, B.A. "Origins, Customs and Traditions." HALLOWEEN CUSTOMS AND
TRADITIONS. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, 2015. Web. 15 Dec. 2015.