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Religious Tolerance logo

Halloween, Samhain, All Saints' Day


Facts, misinformation, & links to web sites.

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Skull The Halloween season of OCT-31 to NOV-2 each year is unique. It includes:

bulletA Neopagan Sabbat: 
bullet Samhain, 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. They recognized only two seasons a year. Samhain was the end of the warm season, and 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. 
bullet A 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 Saturday, 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 on Halloween activities.

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

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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
bullet Halloween customs and traditions Part 1  Part 2
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

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Interesting websites related to Halloween:

bullet The Neverendingwonder Radio Empire broadcasts halloween songs, comedy, musicals, etc. via the Internet. See:
bulletCards: Many websites allow you to send Halloween cards to friends: 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:
bullet123 Greetings  at: at:
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:
bullet Dana's Designs supplied some icons for our Halloween essays. Thanks, Dana.
bulletGlow Inc. sells glow-in-the-dark powders and paints, particularly to the Fun House and Halloween community. See:

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

bullet Halloween Costumes 4 Kids features children's constumes, kids accessorites, masks, makeup and kids' costume wigs. See:
bulletHalloween Express has an immense variety of adult, kids, TV  & movie and other costumes. See:
bulletHalloween Manor offers a wide variety of costumes for children, teens, and adults. See:
bulletHaunted Fog has foggers (machines that generate fog), lighting products, flyers, Halloween E-Cards,  tombstones and many other products.
bulletThe Holiday Spot at  is a place to "celebrate the holidays." They have a well-written history of Halloween at: 

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:
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:

bullet Redstar Fancy Dress: caters for all the big fancy dress events on the calendar from Halloween, Christmas, to World Book Day and St. Patrick's Day. See:

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


Star Costumes sells costumes for kids and adults, including Renaissance and theatrical costumes. See:


Wholesale Halloween Costumes sell many varieties of costumes as well as Halloween decorations. See:

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:  He has other well researched essays at:
  2. Geraldine Sealey, "Satan's Big Day? Culture Wars Don't Take a Holiday on Halloween," ABC News, 2003-OCT-31, at: This is now offline.
  3. "Samhain on the Cauldron" discusses the history of Halloween and the Pagan celebration of Samhain. See:
  4. David Beaulieu, "Origins of Halloween, All Hallows' Eve,", at:
  5. "Halloween: Myths, monsters and devils" analyzes the many errors in four essays about Halloween at: When we last checked this web site we received a "suspicious site" warning from McAfee.
  6. Elspeth Sapphire has a pleasant and accurate description of Halloween at:

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Copyright © 1998 to 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Last update and review: 2015-SEP-09
Author: B.A. Robinson

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