Op-Ed: Halloween’s Celtic roots are a lot spookier than witches and candy bars
I read a blog post earlier this month entitled “Is Halloween Really Wiccan? A Pagan Perspective”, by Rebecca Yoder. The blogger was attempting to answer the question, “What is the Pagan community really like now?” and was prompted into thinking about “the Pagan community”. I found her question intriguing. Is Halloween really a Pagan holiday? That is a question which must be asked, as well as the follow up, “Why does Halloween matter so much today?”
Halloween: a witching holiday
The answer to the first question is obvious. Halloween is a Witching holiday. I am not going to say that Halloween is not an important time of the year. In its pagan roots it should at least be considered a Pagan holiday.
How is Halloween a Witching holiday? First of all, Halloween celebrates the dark moon, the last full moon of a particular celtic cycle. The Pagan year is divided into 12 months, each month being named after a tree. The month of Samhain is the last month of the year. In the fall the Celtic calendar ends, and in the spring the year begins again.
The Pagan concept of death is very important to Halloween. In the Celtic tradition there are two important holidays associated with death: All Hallows Eve and Hallows. All Hallows Eve is the night before All Souls Day, the night between All Hallows and Christmas. That night is important because Pagan rituals require the sacrifice of something to honor a person at a higher power. This is an important concept to the pagans, and the day before Halloween is an excellent time to honor an important element of a person’s life. In that night between the All Hallows and the beginning of the Celtic calendar there are two important rites. The first is All Hallow’s Eve, the beginning of the Celtic year. The second is the night before All Souls; All Hallow’s Eve/All Souls Day or the death of the year.