Halloween has its origins in Ireland, and it’s tied to the end of harvest with a looking forward to the dearth of winter. If you combine the anticipation of winter with a few superstitions peppered with ignorance, you end up with Halloween. Build a fire, make a sacrifice or two to the gods for protection, and you should be good until spring arrives. Al Mohler gives good insight here to the origins of the pagan observances and how Halloween has become entrenched in American society.
Halloween is only the beginning – literally. On November 1st, many Catholics and Orthodox Christians observe All Saints Day, a recognition of those saints who must be remembered for the influence they rendered on Christianity. Even though most recognized saints have their particular day to be honored, on November 1st, all saints are remembered – kind of like a President’s Day, or a Veteran’s Day.
All Saints Day is significant in the Catholic Church. And, Martin Luther knew this. That’s why he nailed the Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences (also known as the 95 Theses) to the door of the church in Wittemburg on October 31, 1517 – the night before the big day. He knew that everyone in and around town would be attending church on November 1st – All Saints Day – and it would be a public relations coup for someone wanting to air grievances against the Church. What Luther didn’t realize at the time was that his stand would spark the Reformation and the birth of Protestantism.
So, now we have Halloween – which didn’t exist in America until the Irish immigration in the 19th century; All Hallows Eve – the night before All Saints Day and the Church’s reaction to pagan observances; the Protestant Reformation – which is celebrated on October 31st; and All Saints Day – the Catholic festival of saints. What do all these have in common? You can find the answer to that here.
So, in the next two days, you have many opportunities to have a party of some kind or another. You can choose.
As for me, I’ll celebrate my Protestant roots and sing “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”