10 Things You Didn’t Know about Halloween

10 Things You Didn’t Know about Halloween

Here’s a little experiment for you: Next Sunday at church, walk up to random people during the greeting time and say, “Trick or Treat!”

Some folks will smile, and maybe offer you a breath mint treat. These are the Christians who generally pass out the best candy on their street, dress up in fun costumes, and host the annual Fall Festival party at your church. Others will frown, and maybe offer to cast out a demon or two. These are the Christians who boycott the “devil’s holiday,” abstaining from festivities and turning off the porch lights on October 31.

Well, I’ve got a treat for both kinds of Christians today.

Regardless of whether you’re a lover or a hater, I’m betting there are at least 10 things you don’t know about Halloween. Ready to find out what you’ve been missing? Let’s go!

Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/monkeybusinessimages

1. Halloween began as a Christian holiday.

While it’s true that Halloween-style celebrations probably began as part of the ancient Celtic “fire festival,” Samhain (pronounced “Sah-wen”), it didn’t become a worldwide phenomenon until Christians got involved. Here’s what happened: 

In the early and mid-7th Century, it was customary for Christians to honor all the nameless martyrs by remembering and celebrating them on a single day, called “All Hallows’ Day.” (“Hallows” means “holy.”) In the early 8th Century, Pope Gregory decreed that All Hallows’ Day should be observed on November 1, a date chosen to replace sporadic pagan fall festivals like Samhain with a universal Christian holy day. By the 11th Century, church leaders had expanded the celebration to include November 2, and they called it all “Hallowmas” or “Hallowtide.”

As history moved on, it became a Christian tradition to mark the start of Hallowmas with a prayer vigil on the night before—October 31. Christians called it, “All Hallows’ Eve,” which eventually got shortened to “Hallowe’en” until it finally became what we know it now: “Halloween.”


Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/evgenyatamanenko