Where does the word Halloween come from?

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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
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  • All Souls Day follows on 2 November. On All Souls Day Catholics pray for the 'souls of the (faithful) departed'.

Isn't the Catholic Church against Halloween?

There is a lot of confusion about this. Because Halloween has roots in Catholic traditions, it was sometimes the target of Puritan 'anti-Popery'. In 1647 the Puritan Parliament banned Christmas and Halloween and the festival was strongly disapproved of by Puritan pilgrims in north America.

In fact the Halloween tradition only returned to the US with mass immigration from Catholic countries in the Nineteenth century. This in turn lead to objections from protestants, particularly to the commercialisation of the festival.

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In the 1980s these objections morphed into a generalised complaint that Halloweeen had associations with devil-worship. Ironically, Catholics sometimes supported these objections in the mistaken belief that this reflected the position of the Church. 

SourceRichert, Scott P. "Should Catholics Celebrate Halloween?" Learn Religions, Oct. 28, 2019, learnreligions.com/should-catholics-celebrate-halloween-542788.

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



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