Every year, at this time, I will see a number of articles on the internet suggesting that “All Saints Day” is really a Pagan holiday (Halloween). And because of this, they allege that Catholicism is
really Paganism and not Christianity at all. They will also suggest that the very honoring of saints is Paganism because the saints who have come before us are dead.
I in one such article, "Where did Halloween come from?" the author is claiming that he is showing the true history of Halloween. There is nothing wrong with writing an article on the history of Halloween. However; in this case the author seems to have an agenda. And his agenda suggests that Halloween and "All Saints Day" are one in the same. Although, some of what he says about Halloween is true, there is no direct connection between Halloween and any Christian tradition.
The author says, "During the middle ages (about 600 years ago), the Roman Catholic Church at that time, decided to make the change-over from pagan religion to Christianity a bit easier, and therefore allowed the new converts to maintain some of their pagan feasts. It was agreed however, that from now on they would be celebrated as ‘Christian’ feasts’."
In this statement there is some intellectual dishonesty. If you move from a Pagan feast to celebrating a Christian feast then you are no longer maintaining a Pagan feast. The maintaining of pagan feasts is not Catholic teaching. It is non-Catholic allegation because you will not find it in Catholic sources. Note that the author made the statement but he doesn't give us a source for it. He is in this case his own source.
He goes on to say, "So instead of praying to their heathen Gods, they would now pray to, and remember the deaths of saints. For this reason the Church decided to call November 1 the "Day of All Saints".
The origin of All Saints day did not exist for the purpose of replacing the practice of worshipping heathen Gods. The honoring of Christian Martyrs goes back to the earliest Church. Feast of all saints is instituted to honor all saints, known and unknown, and according to Urban IV, to supply any deficiencies in the faithful’s celebration of saints’ feasts during the year. The earliest Church honored Martyrs and then later they honored groups of Martyrs because their suffering took place on the same day. There came a time in the Church where there were so many martyrs that a separate day could not be assigned to each. The earliest record of having a common day for all martyrs, go back to a sermon of St Ephrem the Syrian, in the year 373. Gregory the third (731-741) consecrated a chapel in the basilica of St. Peter to all the saints and fixed the anniversary for 1 November. Gregory the IV (827-844) extended the celebration on 1 November to the entire Church. The practice of honoring souls actually pre-dates Christianity.
Under the heading "The Origin of All Saints" the author says, "The first of November, celebrated among the pagans in honor of Samhaim--Satan--is today celebrated in hundreds of churches "to honor all saints, known and unknown... How did the veneration of saints supposedly alive in Heaven, come to be celebrated on a day in honor of the devil?"
Okay, here we go again, the author seems to be slipping a bit when it comes to intellectual honesty. He seems to forget that the pagans celebrated Halloween on October 31, not the first of November as he alleges. It is not the same day. All Saints Day is a Christian Holy day and Halloween is a Pagan celebration. To suggest the two are the same is a corruption of history. To my knowledge there is no Christian Churches who honor Satan, unless of course some of the more extreme Protestants cults do. If this be the case, I am not aware of it.
Halloween takes its name (All Hallow e’en) from being the eve of the holy day of “All Saints Day.” The Celts in Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and Brittany in northwestern France celebrated New Year’s Day on November 1. Among the Celts under the influence of the religious leadership of the Druids, a festival was held the evening before to honor Samhain, their lord of death.
On the one hand they claim that on “All Saints Day” we are honoring Satan and on the other hand they are saying we are honoring the saints. Which one is it when they are saying both? For some people to honor the saints, on “All Saints Day” is not Biblical. Their mantra is “dead saints can’t do anything because they are dead.” There has always been some union or communion of the Saints. The Communion of Saints is in the Apostles Creed and is said in Catholic and Lutheran Churches every Sunday. This means there is some connection between us, and the people who have passed into the next the world. They are not dead saints as some would allege.
In fact the unknown author scores some very good points here. He quotes Jesus, "But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living" (Mt 22:31-32).
These same people see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as dead saints. It is true that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have all physically died, however Jesus never referred to them as dead saints because He said “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”
Their tradition continues to claim that dead saints can’t do anything; however, the Bible says otherwise. For example, Moses and Elijah appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration; “and behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah" (Lk 9:30). In Sirach we have Elisha after death doing marvelous deeds. “But when the man came in contact with the bones of Elisha, he came back to life and rose to his feet” (Kings 13:20-21). Jesus didn’t believe in dead saints. In fact He says, “Whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this" (Jn 11:23-26)?
How do you convince people that honoring saints on “All Saints Day” is Pagan? First you cite a tradition, not in the Bible, that claims, saints who have gone before us are dead. You further claim that because they are dead, these saints cannot do anything. You then leave out all the verses in the Bible that show the saints alive doing things. And finally, you hope that the person you are talking to does not know any of verses that show the saints ALIVE! This method is not very intellectually honest; however, it actually works some times.
If there be any doubt about how the Catholic Church sees Halloween, Pope Bendedict XVI referred to it as dangerous. “In an article entitled The Dangerous Messages of Halloween, the Vatican's official newspaper L'Osservatore Romano quoted liturgical expert Joan Maria Canals as saying: 'Halloween has an undercurrent of occultism and is absolutely anti-Christian” (Halloween is ‘dangerous’ says the Pope as he slams ‘anti-Christian festival; Nick Pisa, 30 October 2009).
The author of the article "Where did Halloween come from?" claims he is writing on the history of Halloween. He is in fact writing an article maligning “All Saints Day” suggesting it is an exercise in Paganism, in an attempt to discredit the Catholic Church.