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Where does the word Halloween come from?



Halloween or All-Hallows-Eve takes place on the night of 31 October. 
Hallow is the old English word for saint. The 'een' suffix is a Scottish variant 'eve'.

Is Halloween Christian or Pagan? 

Like Christmas, Halloween combines pagan & Christian customs. 
  • lighting bonfires symbolizes the plight of souls lost in purgatory (Catholic) while frightening away witches and ghouls (Pagan). 
  • souling - going door-to-door offering prayers for the dead in exchange for "soul cakes" and other treats.
  • mumming (or "guising") was a custom originally associated with Christmas. It consisted of parading in costume, chanting rhymes, and play-acting.  Source

What is the Christian derivation of the word halloween?

  • Hallow is the old English word for saint.
  • Halloween is a Scottish variation dating back to the 1700s. The 'een' suffix is a contraction of 'evening'. 'Hallowed evening' or 'holy evening' was later understood to mean eve or 'night before' as with Christmas Eve 
  • All Hallows Day has become All Saints Day in the calendar of the Catholic Church
  • All Saints/All Hallows Day is celebrated on 1 November and commemorates Christian martyrs
        •  
  • All Souls Day follows on 2 November. On All Souls Day Catholics pray for the 'souls of the (faithful) departed'.

But isn't the Catholic Church against Halloween?

The Catholic Church not recognise Halloween as a religious holiday (again like Christmas Eve). Nor does it approve of modern attempts to connect Halloween with devil-worship, witchcraft etc.


Halloween often features in Victorian ghost stories. Read and/or listen to E. Nesbit's 'Man-Made-in-Marble' retold here.

The Classic Ghost Story Teaching Pack
Halloween Traditions 
Halloween Ghost Story

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