As we head deeper into Fall, our thoughts turn to Halloween and the spooky celebrations October brings. This is fun and exciting time, but in the chaos of the festivities, we might be losing touch with the true meaning of Halloween.
The meaning of Halloween is somewhat difficult to pinpoint. This spooky holiday is rooted in traditions and celebrations from all sorts of cultures and religions throughout history. The modern version we know and love today is the result of these evolving together over centuries.
There are many different stories that explain Halloween’s true meaning, but they all have one thing in common – a celebration of the dead.
All Hallows’ Eve might be the most widely accepted meaning of Halloween, but it’s not the only one. According to this theory, Halloween night evolved from the celebration of All Hallows’ Day, also known as All Saint’s Day.
It was a holiday established in the 4th Century and celebrated on November 1st each year. On this day, Christians would remember Saints and Martyrs throughout all of history who had died and already reached Heaven.
On November 2nd, the Catholics would then celebrate All Soul’s Day (spooky, right?). They would remember their loved ones who had died, and especially those stuck in purgatory whose souls hadn’t passed on yet.
During this holiday, believers would travel door to door offering prayers in exchange for treats. The Catholics would also light bonfires, and in later years, dress in costumes.
With the similarities in the traditions, it wouldn’t be too surprising that some part of the true meaning of Halloween comes from this ancient ritual.
Dating even further back than All Hallows’ Eve is Samhain (pronounced so-ween) which translates from Gaelic to English as “Summer’s End”. It was, and in some small circles still is, an important date in the Pagan calendar.
Samhain’s true meaning was to celebrate endings. They would celebrate the end of long light days, the end of the harvest season, and animals going into hibernation. As the leaves started falling, they would pay homage to the dead with bonfires, sacrifices, and a feast on the day of Samhain.
Samhain marks a time when Pagans and Wiccans believed that the veil between Earth and the afterlife was at its thinnest. It was thought that spirits could return to Earth and roam free during this time.
The believers would dress in animal heads and skins to disguise themselves from the ghosts walking among them.
This event is considered to be the origin of Halloween and has since evolved and adapted as the idea spread through cultures and time periods.
The true meaning of Halloween as we know it now has gotten a little lost amongst the parties, the candy, and the costumes. Despite being overshadowed by tricks and treats, it is still there underneath the festivities.
Halloween’s true meaning is present in every origin story and across every cultural difference. It is a celebration of endings and a time to honor the dead.
Originally, Halloween wasn’t a time to fear the dead, but rather to show some respect for their sacrifices. The holiday was a time to pray for departed souls to help them move on peacefully.
Over time, with horror movies and haunted houses, the idea of paying homage to the dead has become confused. Death became a plot device for movies and nightmares, instead of the beautiful ending to a cycle as the Pagans believed.
This year, consider taking some time out from the festivities to remember the true meaning of Halloween. Fewer zombies and ghouls, more spirits and souls.
This time of year is perfect for connecting to your spiritual side. Spiritual energy can be experienced in all sorts of ways and if different for everyone.
Tuning in can be as simple as noticing deeper meanings in your life. You could attend Pagan-style Samhain celebration if you want to experience the full spirituality of Halloween. If you want to keep it simple, go for a walk and notice nature reaching the end of its own cycle.
To honor the celebration of endings, try to use this time to let go. Release what no longer serves you, what doesn’t make you happy. Let go of things that have died out long ago but you’re still clinging on to.
You should also pay homage to the true meaning of Halloween by taking time out to remember your own loved ones who have passed on.
Try to connect with the memories you have of them. Spiritual people believe that it’s easier to feel their presence at a time when the veil between the worlds of life and death is said to be at its thinnest.
Try meditating on the idea of endings or planning some things you’ll do for your own spirit during this natural period of rest.
Halloween these days does feel a little detached from its true meaning. The partying, the pranks, and the costumes all overshadow the more wholesome intention behind the day.
This year, try to tune into the true spiritual meaning of Halloween before you get carried away with a sugar rush.
Halloween is a very spiritual time. For centuries now, we’ve been taking the opportunity to celebrate the spookier things in life and their spiritual symbolism.
Despite every origin being a little different and the true beginnings being a little unclear, each route still leads to the same point. Halloween is a celebration of endings and the new beginnings on the way.
Maybe you choose to celebrate in the traditional spooky and scary way. If you’re feeling spiritual, you could take the Wiccan route and celebrate Samhain.
If you’re not too inspired by either, you could simply indulge in Fall activities like apple bobbing and hayrides. Whatever you do, try to let this year be about the true meaning of Halloween. Let things end and die away, ready for a rebirth in the new year.
Have a happy, spiritual Halloween!