Halloween falls on the eve of the Solemnity of All Saints Day (1 November). Another term for All Saints is “All Hallows”, and we of course know that our neighbouring parish at Five Dock is named “All Hallows”- All Saints. The term ‘Halloween’ is simply a shortening of the Scottish “Allhallow-even”- meaning the Eve of All Saints Day.
We’ve all heard the assertions that Halloween is a pagan rite dating back to some pre-Christian festival, and it is true that the ancient Celts of Ireland and Britain celebrated a minor festival on October 31, as they did on the last day of most other months of the year. But the reason for Halloween, by the etymology of the word, means it has a distinctly Christian tone. It is the Eve of All Saints Day. In the C10th the abbot of the powerful Cluny monastery in France, added a celebration to the Church’s liturgical calendar for All Souls Day, on 2 November. Thus the Church prayed for All Saints and All Souls on 1 and 2 November.
The subsequent ghoulish and macabre notions and ‘trick or treat’ antics, are more accidents of history incorporating a myriad of Irish, English, French and the new world American notions. Therefore, I personally, see no issue in celebrating Halloween, when viewed in the context of the tremendously rich celebrations of All Saints and All Souls which our Church celebrates in the proceeding days.