THE EVE OF ALL-HALLOWEDS’ DAY
First of all, there is a lot LESS influence by the Celts or Druids or “whatever” upon Christianity than is currently presumed. A lot less! Our first command was to “Go out into all the world and preach the Gospel.” And so we did.
The influence of Christianity upon the cultures that it met was far greater than the influence of ancient cultures upon Christianity. (Unless you must push the relatively new teaching that the Church is a mixture of paganism and apostate Christianity. Then you may embellish that thought any way you please.)
But, secondly, and thankfully, scholars are beginning to admit that we know very little about what constitutes a “Druidic” culture or even a Celtic culture.
So, who were these Celts anyway?
So what would “historians” a thousand or two thousand years in the future call us who live in the Western Hemisphere? “Europeans” ? Or would they call Europe Europe? They would probably make up their own names for us (assuming there would be human civilization then and reading and writing and history.)
We know almost zero about Druids and their religions.
No, sweetie —
— you are NOT a druidic princess or priestess, but the costume is nice.
There were pagan rituals and customs in those days, but alongside that ancient culture was a growing Christian culture with its own customs and rituals and holy days. It was thought to be a good thing to set aside one special day to honor all the martyrs who had died because of the name of Christ. Elsewhere it was also thought to be a good thing to honor all the well-known saints; different days were “officially” designated for these remembrances: May 13; April 20; and November 1.
Eventually the “universal” Church settled on one “universal” date: November 1st.
(A note to evangelicals: The April 20 date was chosen in some areas so as to distinguish this holiday from the pagan Fall harvest festivals. It was not in the mind of the Church to “blend” the two cultures together “so as to gain the favor of the pagans.”)
Pope Gregory III was a pope from Syria — the Middle East. He is the one who regularized the November 1 date in the 8th century.
Every major holiday in the Church has an “eve” — that is, the evening before, throughout which one should prepare for the great festival. There is Christmas Eve, for example, although sometimes the “eves” are called “vigils of.” So on November 1st we honor all the saints of God,all the Hallowed Ones, and tonight . . . (five more minutes, as I write) is called the Eve of All Halloweds’ Day. Hallowed-Evening. HallowE’en.
What is a saint? My class on Friday had a rather unstructured discussion of the definition of a saint. I was very pleased with their thoughts and let them go on for quite some time. Insights can be developed in good discussions. (More on the word “saint” tomorrow.)
How ever all the fun traditions of an American Halloween developed, I get the feeling that it’s changing, somewhat. There are far fewer children than ever before. There are far more rules about trick or treating than ever before. And far more “hovering” and “worrying” parents.
There is a whole mythology about how these two “eves” are connected. One is fun; one is rather thoughtful and solemn. May the happy innocence of the childhood fun Eve continue; and may the children mature with a knowledge of the thoughtful Eve.
(Son texted me tonight to say that he had so much fun last night that “they” are going to do it again tonight. Hmmmm. I’ve got to talk to him about that.)