A brief overview about the Christian and secular roots of Halloween in America and Europe, and contemporary culture’s distortion of the popular holiday’s history. Although Halloween customs in pop-culture are not a part of the Church’s official liturgical observance (some aspects have little to do with Christianity today), many of the more innocuous customs do stem from Christian folk celebrations (a kind of Mardi Gras) inaugurating the feast of Hallowmas, a solemnity which, contrary to some revisionist and secular histories, has no connection to the ancient yet much exaggerated pagan observance of Samhain. Rather, Halloween evolved out of the “Memento Mori” spirituality of the medieval Latin church, which poked fun at death (while reminding one how to live for God) and celebrated victory over Satan and Eternal life in Christ. American culture later adopted the folk practices from immigrants, but some anti-Irish, anti-Catholic critics invented their own origin narrative.
It is also common for Neo-pagans to claim that all Catholic feast days and Christian festivities of the year, including Christmas and Easter, evolved from older pagan customs, and these false attributions were exacerbated by fundamentalist Christians who believe the post-Reformation myth that Catholic liturgy and popular piety is an unbiblical offspring of pagan rites, an attempt to snuff out non-Christian customs by co-opting them and creating a syncretic, impure religion contrary to “Biblical” Christianity. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The three days of Allhallowtide, with their legitimate Christian commemoration of the faithful departed made holy by God, is easiest to target with charges of causality from paganism because such themes as death and honor to the deceased are found universally in all ancient cultures. Find out more about the fallacies that led to the truncating of Allhallowtide in non-Catholic Western calendars and the unwarranted backlash against Halloween, even by well meaning Catholics.