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Halloween, Samhain, All Saints' Day

Facts and misinformation

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Halloween Costumes

Skull The Halloween season of OCT-31 to NOV-2 each year is unique. It includes:
bulletA Neopagan Sabbat: 
bulletSamhain, usually celebrated on or near the evening of OCT-31. It was originally a celebration of the final harvest of the growing season among the ancient Celts. It was also their new year celebration. Today, it is mainly celebrated by Wiccans and other Neo-Pagans
 
bulletThree Christian holy days: 
bulletAll Saints' Day (a.k.a. All Hallows' Day) on NOV-1. The holiday was first celebrated on 609-MAY-13 CE when Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome to the Virgin Mary. The date was later changed to NOV-1 by Pope Gregory III who dedicated a chapel in honor of all saints in the Vatican Basilica. Pope Gregory IV (827-844) later extended the feast to the whole church. The Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate All Saints Day in the springtime -- the Sunday after Pentecost.
 
bulletAll Souls' Day (a.k.a. the Day of the Dead) which is normally celebrated on NOV-2. When NOV-2 is a Sunday, as it was for the years 2003 and 2008, the celebration is held on the following Monday. This is a day for prayer and almsgiving in memory of ancestors who have died. Believers pray for the souls of the dead, in an effort to hasten their transition from Purgatory to Heaven. It is primarily celebrated by Roman Catholics. The day is believed to have been selected by "St. Odilo, the fifth abbot of Cluny...France because he wanted to follow the example of Cluny in offering special prayers and singing the Office of the Dead on the day following the feast of All Saints."
 
bulletSome Protestants celebrate Reformation Day. This is the anniversary of 1517-OCT-31 CE, the day that Martin Luther's published his 95 theses. These were criticisms of beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic church, particularly related to the sale of indulgences. He is widely believed to have published them in a dramatic manner, by nailing them to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Actually, that may never have happened. There is some evidence that he did write a letter to his superiors attacking the sale of indulgences; the 95 theses were merely appended to the letter. This triggered the Protestant Reformation, leading to a decades-long war in Europe, enmity between Catholics and Protestants, and the eventual fracture of Christianity into thousands of individual faith groups. 
 
bulletA secular celebration, Halloween on the evening of OCT-31. In some areas, if OCT-31 falls on a Sunday, Halloween is celebrated on the evening of OCT-30. Stores love Halloween. It is the festival when the largest amount of candy is sold. It is second only to Christmas in total commercial sales. The total sale of costumes, candy and other Halloween material  reached almost $7 billion in 2003. 2 A 2008 survey by the National Federation in the U.S., revealed that the average person was spending $66.54.

There is probably more misinformation circulated about these festivals than about any other yearly celebration.

Halloween topics covered:

bulletOpinions about Halloween:
bulletBy the public
 
bulletBy religious groups
 
bulletAnalysis of websites dealing with Halloween:
bulletFour websites
 
bulletMore of the same
 
bulletAccurate websites on Halloween
 
bulletEvangelical Christian beliefs about Halloween
 
bulletHow Evangelicals celebrate the season
 
bulletHell houses, Judgment houses. revelation walks, etc.
 
bulletNeopagan beliefs about Halloween
 
bulletHalloween customs and traditions
 
bulletHoaxes about Halloween:
bullet"Razor blades in the apples" hoax
 
bulletRitual abuse and sacrificing black cats
 
bulletThe myth of Samhain: Celtic god of the dead

Vaguely related sections in this website:

bulletThe Goth culture
bulletVampyres and vampires
bulletWicca

horizontal rule

Interesting websites related to Halloween:

bulletThe Neverendingwonder Radio Empire broadcasts halloween songs, comedy, musicals, etc. via the Internet. See: http://www.neverendingwonder.com/
 
bullet"Bev" et al., have an essay on the "Day of the Dead," at: http://www.nacnet.org/ 
 
bulletCards: Many websites allow you to send Halloween cards to friends:
bulletCare2.com has Halloween cards with a difference. They have 250 free eCards from which you can choose. For each free card sent via Email, Care2 makes a donation to an environmental nonprofit to save a square foot of rainforest! That's 929.030 square centimeters! Did I mention they are free? See: http://www.care2.com/
 
bulletHalloween Greeting Cards at: http://www.halloweengreetingcards.com/
 
bullet123 Greetings  at: http://www.123greetings.com/events/halloween/ 
 
bulletRegards.com at: http://www.regards.com/
 
bulletHalloween Horrors at: http://www.halloweenhorrors.net
 
bullet CostumeShaker supplies a broad range of pirate, hero, villan, and other costumes. Their site also includes a variety of Halloween resources such as directory of Halloween attractions, Halloween guides, articles about Halloween history, games, etc. See: http://costumeshaker.co.uk/
 
bulletDana's Designs supplied icons for our Halloween essays. Thanks, Dana.
 
bulletThe Fright Catalog has been named "best overall" for Halloween shopping by the Wall Street Journal! See: http://www.frightcatalog.com
 
bulletGlow Inc. sells glow-in-the-dark powders and paints, particularly to the Fun House and Halloween community. See:  http://www.glowinc.com/
 
bullet

Halloween Costumes is "one of the largest retailers of Halloween costumes on the web" Along with accessories, they supply a total of more than 4,000 products. See http://www.halloweencostumes.com

bullet Halloween Costumes 4 Kids features children's constumes, kids accessorites, masks, makeup and kids' costume wigs. See: http://halloweencostumes4kids.com/
 
bulletHalloween Express has an immense variety of adult, kids, TV  & movie and other costumes. See: http://www.halloweenexpress.com/
 
bullet Halloween Costumes 2012 showcases a variety of costumes for individuals, couples, groups, and more.  Accessories such as wigs, makeup, and masks are also available. See: http://xhalloweencostumes.com/

bulletHalloween Manor offers a wide variety of costumes for children, teens, and adults. See: http://www.halloweenmanor.com/
 
bulletHaunted Fog has foggers (machines that generate fog), lighting products, flyers, Halloween E-Cards,  tombstones and many other products.
 
bulletThe Holiday Spot at Theholidayspot.com/  is a place to "celebrate the holidays." They have a well-written history of Halloween at: http://theholidayspot.com/ 
 
bullet

Kids Costumes When it comes to kids and costumes, don't just discard them just because Halloween is over. Kids costumes can become a valued part of play time all year round – kids love to dress as their favorite animal or character at school theme parties and other occasions.

bullet Mr. Costumes has a list of links to online suppliers of Halloween costumes, decorations and party supplies. See: http://www.mrcostumes.com/
 
bulletPure Costumes carries "... a large selection of Halloween costumes for adults, kids, teens, pre teens - tweens, and plus size, as well as wigs, masks and  accessories. See: http://www.purecostumes.com/

bullet Religious Costumes: Costume Machine is a costume search engine and comparison shopping website. Find your perfect religious costume today.

bullet

Star Costumes sells costumes for kids and adults, including Renaissance and theatrical costumes. See: http://www.starcostumes.com/

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Isaac Bonewits describes "The real origins of Halloween." It is a carefully researched essay at: http://www.neopagan.net/  He has other well researched essays at: http://www.neopagan.net/
  2. Geraldine Sealey, "Satan's Big Day? Culture Wars Don't Take a Holiday on Halloween," ABC News, 2003-OCT-31, at: http://abcnews.go.com/ This is now offline.
  3. "Samhain on the Cauldron" discusses the history of Halloween and the Pagan celebration of Samhain. See: http://www.ecauldron.com/p
  4. http://www.ecauldron.net/
  5. David Beaulieu, "Origins of Halloween, All Hallows' Eve," About.com, at: http://landscaping.about.com/
  6. "Halloween: Myths, monsters and devils" analyzes the many errors in four essays about Halloween at: http://www.featherlessbiped.com/
  7. Elspeth Sapphire has a pleasant and accurate description of Halloween at: http://www.ecauldron.net/

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Copyright © 1998 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Last update and review: 2014-MAR-11
Author: B.A. Robinson

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