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My Faith: Reclaiming Halloween's religious roots
A pagan altar constructed for Samhain, which Pagans celebrate around October 31.
October 31st, 2012
11:36 AM ET

My Faith: Reclaiming Halloween's religious roots

Editor's note: Christine Hoff Kraemer is managing editor of the Patheos.com Pagan Channel and an instructor in Theology and Religious History at Cherry Hill Seminary.

By Christine Hoff Kraemer, Special to CNN

(CNN) - As Halloween approaches, Americans rush to malls and shopping centers, credit cards in hand. Children are outfitted as ghosts, Disney characters, princesses and superheroes, while adults dress to impress with “sexy” witch, vampire or pirate garb. Cookies shaped like jack o’lanterns fly off the shelves along with bag after bag of packaged candy.

In American culture, Halloween has mostly become a reason for a good party.

So it may surprise you to learn that the roots of Halloween are religious. In fact, for Americans who practice contemporary Paganism, Halloween is one of the two most important religious holidays of the year. Known as Samhain (pronounced SOW-un), the holiday is modeled after the ancient Celtic festival that marked the beginning of winter.

In Ireland, Scotland and parts of what is now France, ancient people believed that on the night of Samhain, the veil between the living world and that of the dead grew thin. The festival was a time to honor one’s ancestors and to remember deceased family members, as well as to prepare for winter.

In some communities, windows and doors would be left open to invite the dead to visit. Herds would be culled and a feast prepared, with a portion set aside as a gift for the spirits. Those who were grieving spouses, parents, children or friends would hope, on that night, to receive a special communication from their loved ones, some message of love from the other side of the veil.

This ancient festival comes down to Americans through the Christian church. In Mexican Catholicism, it is still celebrated as El Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead, observed on November 2).

The Samhain trend grows globally

On this day, family members build altars with photographs of deceased loved ones, bright marigolds, special food items, candles and images of playful skeletons in bright costumes. Families visit the graves of their loved ones, often holding picnics in the cemeteries so that the spirits of the dead can join the feast.

American Pagans are inspired both by the ancient Celtic Samhain and the Mexican Day of the Dead. In Paganism, death is seen as part of a natural cycle. Every fall, farmers harvest the crops that feed us, and then the plants begin to die. The death of the crops in winter is necessary to help fertilize the land and prepare for another year’s growth. This cycle of growth and death sustains human life.

Human life and death are often seen similarly, as part of a natural cycle. We are born, we make contributions to our families and communities, we raise children and then we pass away so that those children can make the world their own.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Samhain is a time to contemplate mortality. But when Pagans remember their dead, they also affirm that those who have died are not wholly lost. As one Samhain prayer says, “What is remembered, lives.” Through remembering our ancestors and our loved ones, we maintain a connection to the past and to those we loved so dearly.

As a Pagan, I gather with friends and family on or near the night of October 31 to tell stories of our deceased loved ones. My beloved dead continue to teach me through the stories of their lives.

In years when I am grieving, I tell stories of my grandfather, who was orphaned as a teenager and lost his first wife to tuberculosis, but who learned to love again. In years when I am having adventures and taking risks, I remember my great-grandfather, who as a child once escaped from a locked schoolroom closet by tying the coats together and climbing out the window. And when I am nurturing my independence, I remember my grandmother, who lost her husband too early, but found her bliss in a close and loving group of friends.

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Halloween need not be a whirlwind of frantic social obligations and expensive purchases. Nor do you have to be Pagan to remember those who have passed over, or to make peace with your own mortality. This Samhain, I invite you to decorate not just with ghosts or witches, but also with photographs of your beloved dead.

Buy a bouquet of your grandmother’s favorite flowers, and invite friends to cook old family recipes for a Halloween potluck. Tell the family stories that your children or your spouse may have never heard; light candles, dim the lamps and listen to the wind. This year, let Halloween once again be a time for family and friends, and for welcoming the dark.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Christine Hoff Kraemer.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Halloween • Opinion • Paganism

soundoff (591 Responses)
  1. Cos

    To heck with Halloween...BRING ON FESTIVUS!

    October 31, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • OccupyEverything

      Another Festivus miracle.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  2. lol noob

    it is all about jesus!!!

    October 31, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Edna Pimples Save The Day!

      I must admit it's a guilty pleasure, but I love it when the really whacked-out Christian howlers show up and spout their hilarious psychosis.

      And they haven't disappointed lately.

      October 31, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Edna Pimples Save The Day!...........you're gonna just love the tribulation then! There'll be 144,000 messianic Jews trying to convert the left behind. Have a blast!

      October 31, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      He was one of the original zombies.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Robert

      Thanks for mentioning the 144,000 “sealed of Israel” in the book of Revelation 7 is about the Christians who were STRIPPED of their name Israel since the Assyrian captivity and deportations back in 611 B.C.

      Acts 11:26

      And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Schtackel

      The Christians from 611 years defore Christ was born?

      October 31, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Troy

      Genesis 22:18 (Jesus was the promised seed of Abraham)

      18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

      October 31, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  3. NateFromIndiana

    Every aspect of our culture is based on something that came before, and much as anyone might feel aggrieved that their pet holiday has been cannibalized and commercialized by modern secular culture, I don't see any point in rolling back the clock. My compromise: you celebrate the day your way and I'll celebrate it mine.

    October 31, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  4. Frank Frankerson

    I agree with Knuckles. Everyone can believe what they want.

    October 31, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Yep believe and be possessed then burn!

      October 31, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      Be scared or your going to burn forever. Get a life.

      October 31, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      I scored me some great meth today!

      AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      October 31, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Atheist Hunter..........awww its another pathetic faker! You're so sad! What, can't think up your own name little feller!

      October 31, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Spencer

      ah there it is, the Believe what I believe or else argument... Stay classy Atheist Hunter, stay classy.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Spencer.........never heard judgment called classy. Bible forbids conversing with the dead. Deny Jesus, the Bible warns of hell, classy or not.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Mike

      Don't believe in unicorns, bigfoot, aliens, the tooth fairy, Zeus, or your silly God. Most rational don't once they really think about it. If you do, you might as well go full-on self-delusion and believe in ALL of them.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • USDude

      Spencer – just because you don't believe it doesn't make it less true.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • USDude

      Mike – looks like you would agree with what the Bible has to say in 1 Corinthians Chapter 2 verse 14.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Spencer

      All of which is only relevant if you believe in the contents of said bible. For you, obviously a believer, these threats hold weight, to someone else they mean absolutely nothing.

      would someone telling you that if you did not perform the proper tenants Zeus would condemn you to eternal torture make you do those things? Then why do you believe that the threats of your religion hold any bearing on the lives of others?

      October 31, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Mike

      USDude, if I were making up a religion I'd put that little nugget in there too. You have to be able to address independent thinkers in a way to marginalize them such that their disputation of your delusion serves to reinforce your delusion.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • USDude

      Spencer – sorry your perspective is that Christianity is a bunch of threats – actually, a relationship with Jesus can bring life and healing – healing from addiction, physical healing, mental healing, healing broken relationships, etc... It did for me. Since there is probably nobody in your life that can or will speak spiritual truth to you, I would challenge you to read the Bible seeking God with an open mind – I believe God will reveal himself to you in a powerful way. If this is all sillyness to you, then be silly for 30 days – what can it hurt? The Word of God as written in the Bible is alive and sharper than a 2 edged sword. Start with 1 John, 2 John, 3 John and then Ephesians. The only risk is that your life will be changed forever! Acutally, even better, go to Biblegateway and listen to the word of God online for free – just have it play in the background on your pc/laptop starting in the New Testament – at first, you will be agitated, but fight through that feeling and in 30 days, your life will be changed.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Mike

      USDude, if you could consider Agnostic Atheism with the kind of "open mind' that you beg others to consider your specific religious affiliation I'm pretty sure you would become an Athiest. Just saying...

      October 31, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • USDude

      Mike – glad to see you looked it up – thanks – I respect the fact that you are clear on your belief (or lack of belief) and your position on this issue.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • USDude

      Mike – I did consider Agnostic Atheism with an open mind for the first 27 years of my life – then, I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior and my life was changed – changed for the better. If I look back at years 1-27 or 27-now, 27-now is better by far – no comparison. I believe it can be like that for everyone.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • USDude

      I'm glad I had someone in my life that shared the Gospel of Jesus with me. I needed it – we all need it.

      October 31, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Mike

      USDude.My story is the fairly the opposite of yours. Took me a while to finally realize Agnostic Atheist was the way to go and I couldn't be happier about it. It has helped me see the mysticism around me for what it is. It might not be as comforting as your world to live in but ultimately I prefer uncomfortable truths to comforting lies.

      October 31, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • USDude

      Mike – what does an Agnostic Atheist believe? I initially took it to mean agnostic or atheist when I reposted – but now, I'm not sure if that's what it is or that's what you meant? I'm guessing it's being not sure if God does not exist? Help me understand this better.

      October 31, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Mike

      USDude. When you say "I needed it" – that's where you're right. You did/do need it. When you say "we all need it" that's where you're wrong. We don't ALL need your religion. That mindset right there. That exact mindset of assuming others need to be converted to your religion is one of the major aspects of yours and most other religions that I will NEVER respect. If you could just let others be, that would be find but NO you have to try and impose your beliefs on others. We all need it... NO WE ALL DON'T.

      October 31, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Mike

      A common misconception and "straw man" among the religious is to misconstrue Atheism with the positive belief that a God or Gods do not exist. That is not the case. Agnostic Atheism is basically the logical stance that unless you can prove your assertion to me that something does, in fact, exist. I have no reason to believe it. Some people believe in Bigfoot. I do not. I am not unwilling to believe in Bigfoot per se, I just don't believe that sufficient evidence exists to prove it's existence. Likewise for all religious assertions of existence. If a god suddenly magically appeared before my eyes and said, "Mike. I just turned your car into a toucan, do you believe in me now?" I'd not and say "Yep."

      October 31, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • USDude

      But Mike – what if I saw Bigfoot, what if Bigfoot healed me, what if I now know that Bigfoot exists and can make my life (and other lives) better – I should just keep it too myself? You probably would say yes – keep it too yourself, but I can't! I have to tell others about Bigfoot now. It would be wrong for me not to tell others about Bigfoot.

      October 31, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Spencer

      USDude, been down that road, which lead me to where I am today. Happy and comfortable sans deities of all types.

      Something I learned a long time ago, Just because you've found something that feels right to you does not mean that is is right for anyone else.

      October 31, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Mike

      If you told me Bigfoot healed you I'd be inclined to think it was perhaps something else that healed you and you were going through some kind of mental episode. If you were to tell others about your Bigfoot experience they would eventually want to put you into an asylum.

      October 31, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  5. Jesse from KC

    Truly, the Wiccan religion, which is a religion grouped into "paganism", and many others make the most sense in terms of what you should and should not worship. Worshiping nature, which nurtures, feeds, clothes and supports us, makes much more sense than believing in some mystical being that created us. Human beings are so obsessed with this idea that something can't come from nothing, when science has taught us that time is, in and of itself, non-ending and non-linear. The idea of a beginning is ridiculous, as a circle has no beginning and ending.

    The bottom line, in my mind, is that all religion is a manifestation of our inability to explain things. Pagans, at least, have the rational to worship the very things that allow us to sustain our lives.

    October 31, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Jesse from KC........Wicca is witchcraft and opens you up to demons. These grass and tree worshippers kill me. You tell me I shouldn't worship a Jesus who there is proof existed, who's name brings about miracles, etc. but you worship a blade of grass. Really???? You're right, it's in your mind and your mind has deceived you.

      October 31, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Eric G

      "You tell me I shouldn't worship a Jesus who there is proof existed, who's name brings about miracles"

      Please provide verifiable evidencial support for your claims.

      October 31, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Eric G......check history and use your telepathetic powers to enter my head and see miracles.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "Wicca is witchcraft and opens you up to demons."

      shouldnt you be killing them then AH? your own bible says suffer not a witch to live does it not? dont tell me you are disobeying your god now.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      cedar rapids..........OT, read you're Bible, Jesus paid for the witches if they want to repent. I don't have to kill them.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Mike

      AH. I have bad news for you. Your God delusion is no more valid than any Wiccans. Both require the same amount of "proof" which is to say none.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "Atheist Hunter

      cedar rapids..........OT, read you're Bible, Jesus paid for the witches if they want to repent. I don't have to kill them."

      ah so you can ignore everything in the OT. ok then. or do you pick and choose?

      October 31, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Everyone

      There is no point in talking to Atheist Hunter. No logic, no truth, and absolutely no coherency from the revisionist moron. He is not interested in actual discussion or making coherent points, just with preaching to the choir and lying as much as it suits him.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • OccupyEverything

      Wicca isn't an ancient religion. Wicca is a 20th century religion that has little to do with what the ancient believed and more to do with 19th/20th century liberal ideology.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Troy

      Jesse from KC, speak about snake oil salesman. That bull you bought from scientists takes the prize.

      October 31, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • logicalgirl

      Wicca or Witchcraft does not WORSHIP blades of grass or any such thing. Before you spout hatred, can you please take a moment and research the thing you hate to make sure you know just what you are talking about? People might listen to you then. Otherwise you sound like a lunatic.

      November 1, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  6. Dawkins is my homeboy

    Worship Satan! Today is satans birth day. Fvck god! Yea!

    October 31, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Ghoulash

      What's with you and that "worship" fetish?

      October 31, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Dawkins is my homeboy

      On today, the great celebration of Satan, you must self release your own man seed into your hands, then rub your own man milk in your eyes, then you can truly see gods evil plan!

      October 31, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Satan's got you burning cell and chains ready and a horde of demons set aside to torment you eternally. Have fun with it!

      October 31, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • ladies luv d'log

      Satan cops the BEST weed! Spread dem meet curtains for some green lovin"!!! Den have sum weeeed

      October 31, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • logicalgirl

      Well that sounds... sticky. It's not for me, I think, but have fun with your ritual.

      November 1, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  7. Scott

    Yeah, except.... I like Halloween traditions. I don't need a holiday to observe my dead or to contemplate morality. I do those throughout the year. I would much rather enjoy the fun of Halloween than spend time thinking about how I am going to die.

    Soooo.... no thanks.

    October 31, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  8. fedupwithla

    I consider myself quite Celtic, but do not celebrate Halloween in such a manner. That died out a couple of thousand years ago with the coming of Christianity to the British Isles. It's all about All Hallow's Eve on October 31 and All Saints Day on November 1st. Period. Commercialism of it all be d*mned.

    October 31, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Meatwad

      Halloween is all about the free candy ya'll. I have to wait for it every year cuz a ain't got no damn money.

      October 31, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • logicalgirl

      Actually, it didn't die out, but went underground, just like other belief systems. But you are free to celebrate Halloween anyway you like.

      November 1, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  9. Lamb of dog

    While Paganism is easier to stomach than Christianity they are both still silly beliefs.

    October 31, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  10. M.E.

    Oh right, let's give the evangelicals extra fuel to throw on their halloween hatred fire! It's bad enough that so many children are deprived of fun because their parents are religious zealots, let's not give them any extra excuses for their hatred of imagination and silliness. As always, practice your religion as you see fit, but keep it to yourself. The rest of us just want to dress up and gorge on sugar in peace.

    October 31, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      M.E..........what's more sad is all the children who end up on drugs, pregnant, hom os, depressed, suicidal, etc. cause their selfish god hating mother's and father's forbade them to know their savior and their god hate destroys their children with them.

      October 31, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Mike

      AH. I have to believe you are a Troll because most religious people I know just don't say the kind of stupid garbage that you keep writing.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Dark Forest

      Atheist Hunter: Normally I don't post on here, but you just crossed the line. I was a Christian for all of my childhood, and I was diagnosed with severe depression. Once I stopped mindlessly hanging on to my religion, along with getting involved with a close group of friends, I began to feel better over time. Don't make claims about people being homeless, deppressed, etc. because they don't believe in Christianity. Don't mock people for not reading the Bible when you haven't read it yourself (Satan isn't in control of hell according to the Bible, he gets burned the same as everyone else). If you truly believe in your religion, then show some compassion. If not, then at least recognize the difference between annoying and outright offensive.

      October 31, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Mary Rogers

      I get what you are saying Dark Forrest. Funny how all these "happy" Christians seem to be full of so much hate. Anyone who spews that filth is in the most unhappy person in the world and just wants to make others as miserable as he is. Franly the fear-based version of religion is extremely toxic to the psyche.

      November 1, 2012 at 4:33 am |
    • logicalgirl

      I am wondering what the peaceful, loving God that Christians tell me about thinks of you, Mr. Hunter.

      November 1, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  11. Frank Frankerson

    I can understand why she would be a bit annoyed with Halloween's commercialization, and the unfaithfulness of those celebrating it. As a Catholic, I too feel this annoyance when I see Christmas and Easter celebrated in these over-commercialized ways. I'm not saying that there should be no commercial aspects; everyone likes candy, plastic eggs, and presents. And I'm not saying the holidays have to be entirely religious; people can party and see family and trick-or-treat. That's all fine. But I don't like how it seems that we're forgetting the fact that these holidays have religious, non-commercial aspects.

    October 31, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "But I don't like how it seems that we're forgetting the fact that these holidays have religious, non-commercial aspects."

      and in the case of xmas and easter, they were pagan ones.

      October 31, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Frank Frankerson

      As for the actual popular ceremonies (trees and bunnies and such), yes they are pagan. But the events they celebrate (Jesus' birth and resurrection), are Christian in nature. Remember, there are special masses and such on Christmas and Easter and special christian traditions too.

      October 31, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "But the events they celebrate (Jesus' birth and resurrection), are Christian in nature"
      well they have been added to the festivals by christians, but my point was you were saying people need to remember they are religious holidays, and i was pointing out that yes they were, someone else's religion that is and that is usually forgotten by the christians that want to claim xmas and easter as their own.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Doc in VA

      Amen, Frank. I too agree that commercialization has gone too far, and I add "political correctness". If you are Catholic (which I am) then we should honor and remember the Christian/Catholic tradition behind All Saints Day. And as Christians we also have the ability and right to celebrate this secular holiday of Halloween by dressing up (within reason while remembering our Christian values) and enjoying some of the candy. It's the extreme point of views that always seem to create the divisiveness around our holidays. If Christian/Catholic say Merry Christmas; if not say Happy Holidays. No one should be offended by what is said, as we all have equal rights to our beliefs.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "If Christian/Catholic say Merry Christmas; if not say Happy Holidays. No one should be offended by what is said, as we all have equal rights to our beliefs."

      see i like to say happy holidays because i like to be inclusive of everyone. I am always bombarded though by the christians that want to proclaim that its merry xmas not happy holidays, its the reason for the season, its a war of religion, etc etc.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • logicalgirl

      I think all of the holidays, regardless of whose they are, are very commmercialized. I think life is too commercialized. I imagine that at Hanukkah, Jewish people find more plastic, cheezy dreidels that you can shake a stick at. Maybe you should just have fun with it? For instance I have the many horrible, disgusting toy witches and they make me laugh. One even sings "I Put a Spell on You" and scares the dog. Maybe embrace your plastic baby Jesus lawn art figures and shake your head and smile.

      November 1, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  12. ted

    It's real name is Trickertreet
    It has something to do with finding feet fetish pervs in the neighborhood to smell your feet then they give you candy.

    October 31, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  13. Seaninaz

    Opinion: shut the fuuck up and enjoy the stud!d holiday.

    October 31, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  14. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    Happy Samhain to all our Wiccan friends.

    Come on out of the broom closet and proudly profess your beliefs.

    Blessed be.

    October 31, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • MJ

      NICE! Blessed Be!

      October 31, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  15. Bob Pickle

    According to the Bible, "the dead know not anything" (Eccl. 9:5, 6, 10). Both Jesus and Paul referred to the dead as sleeping, awaiting the resurrection (Jn. 11:11-14; 1 Cor. 15:51). The problem is, if this is true, and if someone "dead" communicates with us today, we're really talking with an imposter, a demon in disguise. This would be why the Bible equates the worship of the dead with the worship of devils (Num. 25:2; Ps. 106:28; 1 Cor. 10:20).

    While the Catholic Church adopted the teaching that the dead aren't really dead, that doesn't make it biblical.

    October 31, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      No the bible just tells us to pray to a silly sky fairy that doesn't exist.

      October 31, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Dudus57

      Thanks Bob, for shoving your religious pickle into someone else beliefs. You are a great assets to your religion, I just wish those religions could be more of an asset to the planet in general; opposing the current state of war and "moral issues" that religions cause the modern world.

      I liked this article. I learned something. I do not always agree, but I will not sit here and claim my BELIEF is more a less accurate than another, because that is ignorant, even doing so in the name of your god.

      October 31, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • jay

      Ya Jehovah's Witnesses ? It remind me from what they teach from your statement

      October 31, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Frank Frankerson

      No, the bible is composed of two parts. The Old Testament is devine metaphor that idiots interpreted to be literal (yeah, a flood TOTALLY happened, as opposed to the story of Noah being a metaphor for karma and the consequences of sin). The New Testament is the lessons of Jesus Christ, the son of God, which are great and peaceful in nature. The fantastic elements of the New Testament come from embellishment by the people who transcribed the events, in order to lend more credibility to the notion that Jesus is God. God himself is a omnipresent being who does not live in any sort of physical world, and who gave us all souls that will live on after our bodily deaths.

      October 31, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      Then that also makes the idea of saints incorrect then. If the dead are waiting to be resurrected then so are the 'saints' so therefore declaring that I prayed to a saint and a miracle happened must be attributed to another source, correct?

      October 31, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Knuckles Nuclear

      Thanks, Dudus,

      Those are sentiments I totally agree with. Anyone's spiritual -or lack of- viewpoint is just that. THEIR viewpoint. It is perfectly right for YOU. But please do not forcible impose it on others either with physical prowess or emotional fear-mongering.

      October 31, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Doc in VA

      Dudas 57: "I will not sit here and claim my BELIEF is more a less accurate than another"

      But you just did when you said "Thanks Bob, for shoving your religious pickle into someone else beliefs". Bob has as much right to express his belief without being insulted for it, as you do yours. Do not preach unless you are also willing to live what you preach.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Troy

      Lamb of dog, are you sure that the savior doesn't exist? If you say yes, then why haven't you won billions in the lottery if you know the absolutes of life.

      October 31, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • ladies luv d'log

      Zombies!!!! Give 'em ur pickle, Bob....

      October 31, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  16. KindaSorta

    I wish trick or treating was celebrated on the last Saturday in October every year. Kids don't have to go to school on Sunday's and I don't have to go to work. I'm just sayin.

    October 31, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  17. Planet Kolob

    Hail paganism! Down with boring, evil christians!

    October 31, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Troy

      Boring to the pagans means, responsible and conscientious.

      October 31, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  18. Stephen

    To say that "Halloween" is a pagan holiday is not wholly accurate. It could have roots in either Samhain, a Celtic holiday, or the Roman feast of Pomona, but it has over time become something very different. For instance, the tradition of Trick or Treating came from the tradition of souling, which comes from the Christian holiday of Hallowtide, or All Saint's Day, and All Soul's Day.

    Also, the Dia de los Muertos tradition predates the Catholic Church's influence in Mexico by a long time. The Aztecs celebrated the Day of the Dead.

    That said, there's nothing preventing people from having a Samhain celebration around this time. I put forth, however, that our modern conception of Halloween is as different from Samhain as modern Christmas is from Yuletide.

    October 31, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Stephen,

      why do you think the Catholic holy days, All Saints Day is November 1 and All Souls Day is November 2?

      Because they co-opted pagan holidays like Samhain, just like they co-opted December 25 for Christmas. All Saints Day was moved from May to coincide with Samhain.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Saints%27_Day

      Owning the holidays is how the church absorbed the pagan cultures of Europe.

      October 31, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Dudus57

      Sure. And I could just as easily point out the Christmas is a corporate holiday as it's been so far removed from faith.

      Surly there must be something in the world the Christians don't take credit for? I include mass murder something contributed by Christians too, as the first mass murder was done so in the name of Christianity.

      Jerk.

      October 31, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • imagonner

      best to do a little research before posting. halloween IS a PAGAN holiday

      October 31, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • fred

      GOPer
      And, this is why God says I detest your celebrations. God was speaking about the Hebrew that had massive festivals celebrating God yet their hearts were no different than the Pagans.
      Evil is always at work to cover and disguise the truth. The evil within the church may well have taken on the pagan holidays to intermarry true celebration for the great things God has done with pagan celebration of self. The birth of Christ is secondary to the Holiday Season and no different than other gods. Just what are we celebrate as a Nation today compared with 70 years ago has fallen victim to the same evil.

      October 31, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Frank Frankerson

      Mass murder is as old as humanity. Christians didn't invent it. And most of the truly awful and deadly wars in history were not Christian, nor even religious in nature. I'm tired of hearing that "religion causes all of the wars in the world" from ignorant people. WWII alone killed 72 million, and it was not religious in nature. It was all about expansion and imperialism, and was initiated by an atheist.

      October 31, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      I understand what you are trying to say Stephen but although the meaning may have changed, the base elements are still there. As in your example of xmas and yuletide........the 2 'festivals' are not distinct and separate, yuletide remains as a core element of xmas tradition as xmas has grown around it.
      In the case of halloween it can be argued that how it looks now is in fact closer to its pagan roots than its christian idea, as there is no mention in the christian 'festival' of any of the current trappings associated with modern halloween. Even the idea of souling being the basis for trick or treating is still argued today.

      October 31, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "WWII alone killed 72 million, and it was not religious in nature. It was all about expansion and imperialism, and was initiated by an atheist"

      hitler wasnt an atheist, he was raised catholic and claimed that he was doing god's will in killing the jews.

      October 31, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @fred,

      if you want to personally renew the Puritan ban on Christmas, knock yourself out. It's a low stress approach to the Yuletide. No presents to purchase, no house cleaning, no big dinner to prepare.

      Just remember that the 'war on Christmas' started with the Puritans in the 17th century – for exactly the reasons that you state.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Doc in VA

      Not the issue at hand, but to debate a point made by cedar rapids:

      Hitler was born and raised Catholic and at one time even considered the priesthood at an early age. However, a heck of a lot transpired between that early childhood period and adulthood including multiple emotionally traumatic events at home; death of his beloved brother and alienation from his father. He left his religious roots well behind.

      Hitler's atrocities were NOT rooted in religion, they were rooted by a deep passion for and belief in the purity of the German race. His "Plan for the East" called for the eradication or enslavement of all Slavs and Jews from Eastern Europe so that these conquered territories could be "pure" in nature. That, along with the recapturing of the Lebensraum, were the main drivers of the conquests, not a religious one.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Doc in VA,

      nevertheless, he conflated ayranism with religion and the good Christian Catholics and Lutherans of Germany embraced his vision and did his bidding and the Wehrmacht continued the Prussian "Gott mit uns" on soldiers uniforms.

      All those 'zeig heiling' Catholics and Lutherans did not do so at bayonet point.

      October 31, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Stephen

      @cedar rapids: You're not without basis, but the resemblance between modern Christmas and either Yuletide or Christmas up to the 19th century is pretty slim. Christmas was once not so very far removed from the pagan holidays it came from, a period of wanton-ness and debauchery, to the point where the Church even banned Christmas celebrations over the course of his history.

      It has since been retooled to be a festival of family love and Christian values, and things like drunkenness, mischief-making, and debauchery have gone from par from the course to things seen as having no place. The influence of its origins is still there, but it is most certainly a totally different holiday from Yuletide.

      Similarly, Halloween, with its emphasis on trick-or-treating, haunted houses, haunted hayrides (why would a hayride be haunted again?), and seemingly-endless horror movie specials on television have very little to do with Samhain or Pomora. This is, in fact, the entire point behind the article we're discussing.

      I am thus saying that saying Halloween is a pagan holiday is a misnomer. Samhain is certainly pagan, but while Halloween might have roots in a pagan holiday, both its name and its most famous means of celebrating, trick-or-treating, come from the Christian holiday of All Soul's, and the serious belief of the spirits of the dead walking the earth has changed to a far more campy celebration of people dressing up as cartoon characters and horror movie creatures. As it stands, modern Halloween is a mostly secular tradition seen as an occasion for children to go have candy and adults to have costume parties.

      Needless to say, this isn't Samhain, which is rather the entire point of what the article is making as well. I'm saying that there's no reason the two practices can't exist simultaneously as different holidays, which is more true to reality, rather than saying one is the "real" version of the other.

      October 31, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Troy

      I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV, back to the end of your rope. Everyone knows that pagan holidays were included in the church teachings to keep them comfortable while hearing God's truth.

      October 31, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • logicalgirl

      Stephen- I was very happy to read a reasonable comment about the difference between modern Halloween and the actual Pagan holiday of Samhain (or Pomona, etc). I think you make a very good point distinguishing the difference. Good post.

      November 1, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  19. Dawkins is my homeboy

    Worship Satan!!!!

    October 31, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • ladies luv d'log

      And the hot babes just flock to him!!!!! He knows how to party!!!!! The best weed, with NO seeds or shake. I think its Beelzebub blue, much better than the kristian kak..... just sayin'

      October 31, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  20. Silliness

    ORChuck has it right on the mark of what halloween REALLY signifies all the rest is silliness plain and simple.

    October 31, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.