The origins of Halloween date back at least 2000 years to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which marks the end of summer and the beginning of the new Celtic year. Since this was a unique period of transition, the veils between the two worlds were thought to be at their thinnest, allowing ancestral spirits to walk among their living relatives. Hence the modern link with all things ghostly and supernatural.
Under Christian influence the feast became a ’catch-all’, honouring all saints who had no festival of their own. The date of the Christian All Saints Day was moved from May to October by Pope Gregory III. It has been convincingly argued that this was a calculated attempt to supplant the earlier pagan festival. See the BBC website for more detail.
- An Irish clergyman, Terence Cadden of Seagoe parish, Belfast, has recently come under fire for his attempt to ban Halloween for its “negative spiritual influence”.
- Meanwhile an article in the BBC tells us that the French are increasingly rejecting the holiday as ‘too American’and commercial.
- Finally, in other news, a Los Angeles resident has attracted widespread condemnation for his unusual Halloween display; a full-size Sarah Palin in a noose, and an effigy of John McCain engulfed in flames.
Attitudes, Values, and Beliefs, Media Effects on
By L. J. Shrum
From The International Encyclopedia of Communication