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||Holidays or Pagan festivals???|
Many critics like to claim that the holidays many Christians celebrate are really remnants of ancient Pagan festivals. Some Christians are scared to celebrate Hallowe'en, Christmas or even Easter, fearing these are really Pagan "sabbats". There is a widespread belief that the eight holidays or "Sabbats"celebrated by Wiccans and most Neopagans in general are the exact same holidays celebrated by ancient Pagans.
Also widespread is the belief that many of the unusual local traditions and celebrations of Great Britain are really the remnants of ancient Pagan rituals. But is this really the case? Am I going to Hell for watching A Charlie Brown Christmas for the zillionth time while I swill Egg Nog??? Is that hollow chocolate bunny really a Pagan idol??? Is candy corn the snack of Satan??? Are my holidays just cheap imitation of Pagan orgies of yore??? Oh woe is me! OK, you know there's a catch or I wouldn't have dragged you this far.
The idea of every strange holiday custom being proof as to the survival of some kind of ancient Pagan religion has been taken for granted. Ronald Hutton has done much to debunk these ideas in his books such as Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain. For example, many Southern England towns roll flaming tar barrels through town. Any Wiccan worth her broomstick will be quick to say that it's an ancient rite done to cleanse the streets of evil spirits. Indeed, many people have thought this in recent times. But in reality, it was initially an anti-Catholic demonstration invented for Guy Fawkes Day.
Of course, no one wants to really admit to the bigoted origins of this holiday tradition and instead fall back on the "it’s an ancient Pagan thing" excuse. In fact many things thought to belong to the Pagan era, from Maypoles to the Easter Bunny, turn out to be things created during the Christian Era.
Folklorists desperate to find surviving Pagan customs simply slapped a label on anything that looked like it could be a surviving Pagan custom wether it was or not. Many American Wiccans will tell you that lighting candles on a birthday cake and blowing them out to make a wish is really an ancient European Pagan tradition, going back to the worship of Artemis with cakes and candles in ancient Greece. The truth is, lighting birthday candles started as an American (i.e., by Christians who didn’t know anything about Artemis) thing, and it doesn’t seem to be much older than the 1920's. But hey, it sure sounded like it could have been true, didn’t it?
Many Christians themselves have been a big source of this misinformation concerning Pagan holidays . Overzealous Protestants in the 1800 began to try to connect every Roman Catholic holiday with some kind of ancient Pagan holiday. They tried to connect Roman Catholicism to Babylonian Paganism...an impossibility because it been extinct for 400 years by the time of Christ.
The fact of the matter is, the scholarship of these folks is questionable at best. Sometimes it is simply dead wrong. One book I read that tried to connect Roman Catholicism to Paganism, Babylon Mystery Religion, cited sources written by Jehovah’s Witnesses and occult books by Madame H.P. Blavatsky...hardly credible sources! The mitres of Bishops were said to be the fish headresses of the Dagon priests. In reality the Mitres did not come about until around the 1200's, and nobody knew who or what a Dagon was by then. Keep this in mind when doing research on the origins of holidays. If we have learned anything from the likes of Warnke and Todd/Collins it is to check the source.
The Neopagan holiday calendar called "The Wheel of the Year" is really a recent invention. The holidays were, and are still celebrated, by the O.T.O.(Aleister Crowley's sex-"magick" and druggie club). Gerald Gardner was a high ranking member in the O.T.O., which is no doubt where he got the ideas for these holidays.This Wiccan holiday calendar called the "Wheel of the Year" was fabricated by authors such as Murray, Gerald Gardner, and Robert Graves,and repeated by Wiccan authors who copied them.
There is some evidence that the Irish Celts observed Samhain , Imbolc , Beltane , and Lughnasadh. Samhain and Beltane were apparently the two most important days. The feasts of Imbolc and Lughnasadh limited importance. The Welsh observed only May Day out of this set, but it was celebrated more like Samhain. As for the celebration of solstices or equinoxes, there simply is no evidence. There is no known written evidence for Scotland or Gaul (France) if these holidays were celebrated.
There is a mention of an 8th Century A.D. Celtic writer that the British observed the winter solstice, but there is no evidence they also observed a summer solstice. It is true many ancient cultures celebrated harvest day, and the autumnal equinox falls close to the harvest. However, there is no evidence that any feasts held during that time celebrated the equinox specifically. In the past, many rural communities celebrated their "homecoming" close to harvest time, but this not because of a solar event or a throwback to goddess worship, it just happens to be when there is an ample supply of food!
Historian Ronald Hutton has proven quite conclusively in his books that many so-called ancient Pagan traditions, were actually the invention of Tudor aristocrats as a form of entertainment. In the 19th-century. These same "traditions" were copied by peasants and then later "discovered" as "remnants of ancient Pagan festivals" in the 20th century by anti-Christian pseudo-scholars desperate to discover a pre-Christian religious system in the British past as described in books by Murray and Frazier. Hutton has also noted that people investigating folk customs of Great Britain were not above asking the locals to insert some material into their customs and then declaring a genuine discovery of a remnant of some Pagan ritual out of these staged acts! (For more information, consult Stations of the Sun by Ronald Hutton)
From The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles; Their Nature and Legacy by Ronald Hutton, 1991.
p. 302-4: "[The Witch Cult in Western Europe by Margaret Alice Murray] deserves our respect in that it was the first attempt to study the Great Witch Hunt dispassionately, as an aspect of social history, and employing a fairly large quantity of material contemporary to the events described. But both her sources and her treatment of them were seriously defective. The former consisted of a few well-known works by Continental demonologists, a few tracts printed in England and quite a number of published records of Scottish witch trials. The much greater amount of unpublished evidence was absolutely ignored. She began with the premise that the trials were of a genuine religion, and reconstructed it from the confessions of the accused and the writings of their persecutors. . . . She ignored or misquoted evidence which indicated that the actions attributed to the alleged witches were physically impossible. Or she rationalized it, by suggesting that an illusion of flying was created by drugs. . . .
"Furthermore, she pruned and rearranged her evidence ruthlessly to support her assertion that the 'religion' concerned was standard throughout Europe. Thus she mangled data continually to fit her assertion that all witches operated in covens of thirteen, though it is obvious even from the limited data which she scanned that most of the accused were solitary individuals. Her portrayal of the festival of the cult was of the same nature. It commenced with the bald assertion that the most important were May Eve and Hallowe'en, with two lesser ones at Candlemas and Lammas. These were, of course, simply the quarter days of the Gaelic year, and her scheme rests upon the confession of a single Scottish 'witch,' Isobel Smyth, at Forfar in 1661. She found a lot of evidence that persons accused in Scotland, and in one case Lancashire, had specified Hallowe'en as a time for their activities, doubtless drawing upon the arcane reputation of the old feast of Samhain.
She also found a single Scottish trial at which Lammas was mentioned, though that just happened to be the major holiday during the time in which the people concerned were accused of having operated. And that was all her evidence; but it was sufficient for her to speak about the quarter days as the main celebrations of the witch cult of 'western Europe.'
At Candlemas, she suggested, a wheel-like dance of torch-bearers had been performed. She did not provide a reference for this notion and it seems to have been her own invention. To the great festivals she gave the name 'Sabbaths,' a term used to describe meetings of witches by the early modern demonologists (because the same writers held the Jewish faith to be the antithesis of Christianity, an explanation which is patent in their work but which Dr. Murray brushed away with a simple denial.) She also spoke of gatherings for purposes of business instead of religion, which she termed 'esbats.' This expression actually occurs only in a single source, used by a French intellectual who did not himself give it this meani ng. Bur Dr. Murray was happy to declare it to be another general rule of her 'cult.' She did note that both in Britain and on the Continent alleged witches stated that they revelled upon a variety of Christian and traditional holidays. But, having set her system in place, she was able to dismiss these as "aberrations".
"This method of operation was buttressed by an apparently wilful ignorance of context and an obstinate refusal to ask any awkward questions -- even very obvious ones. Dr. Murray's ignorance of ancient paganism in Western Europe prevented her from realizing that the rituals imputed to early modern witches were not antique rites but parodies of contemporary Christian ceremonies and social mores. Her failure to study Continental sources obviated the need to wonder why the Great Witch Hunt was confined to certain places and certain times, and why the 'witch cult' failed to persist in areas in which it was never persecuted. . . . She had constructed her image of medieval paganism. It had ancient Gaelic festivals, and a congregational structure found in the pages of sixteenth-century demonologists. It worshipped the Horned God -- Dr. Murray's paganization of the Christian Satan who featured in the early modern accusations and confessions -- and also the Goddess -- whom she took from the high medieval records of magical practices. And she was convinced that she was correct."
The Wiccan/Neopagan Holidays are the product of bad scholarship!
The eight sabbats are the holidays of Wiccans and Neopagans. The esbats (or eshbats) are regular meetings were the coven members meet, carry out coven business, and are usually held on the night of the full moon, or some covens have weekly meetings (such as on a Friday night for instance). Esbat comes from the French word meaning "to frolic". Sabbats are the high holidays. I don't know if "frolic" would describe the meetings of some Wiccan groups which include mindless recitations of "ancient" ceremonies sometimes hours old in costumed garb. .
Since esbats are usually celebrated during the full moon, there is usually an emphasis on the goddesses. Sabbats (the High holidays) often correlate to the lengthening and shortening of the days of the year and are viewed as solar. .
Wiccans describe their goddess into three aspects, viewing her as a Maiden, a Mother and a Crone. These aspects correspond to the waxing, full and waning Moons respectively. The sabbats are very fertility oriented, so when the Goddess is portrayed, she is in the aspect of the Mother. She is not only the consort of the God, but she becomes pregnant by him and gives birth to him. In the Crone aspect, she represents death.
The Celts probably viewed the year as only really having just two seasons, winter and summer. Summer begins on May 1st with Beltane, and winter begins on November 1st with Samhain. Along with Imbolc (around February 1st) and Lughnasadh (around August 1st), they make up the "Greater Sabbats". .
The Lesser Sabbats consist of the solstices and equinoxes. They are also known as the "Cross Quarter Days", since they are equally spaced between the Greater Sabbats on the Wheel of the Year. With the four Greater Sabbats and the four Lesser Sabbats, the year of solar festivals is completed. The Year begins at Yule and ends at Samhain.
Pagan holidays usually begin at sundown on the day before. It is considered normal to have the big celebration on the night before the actual date for the Sabbat. The two main themes of this Sabbat. are The Mother Goddess giving birth to the "sun god", and the "Oak King" slaying the "Holly King". Many gods of the various ancient Pagan religions were supposed to be born about solstice time. Most of these were solar deities or "gods of light". This is because the superstitious Pagans actually believed the sun and moon were gods! The idea of an old king having to be slain before a new king could take over is an idea presented by Sir James Frazer in his book, The Golden Bough. In reality, this was not the case.
February 2nd Disfest, Oimelc/Imbolic/Imbolg/Imbolc, Brigantia,
This holiday with it's slew of names is celebrated on or around February 2nd. The Roman Catholic Church has a holiday on Feb. 2nd called Candlemas. Some Neopagans think this holiday has continued in America as Groundhog Day. But Groundhog day did not come to us from the ancient Celts, but rather, it is, in fact, just an extension of the Christian Candlemas. The superstitious folks among the Italian (who were Roman Catholics) believed that if a hedgehog saw his shadow on Candlemas this was an omen of more cold weather. The Romans (who had never even heard of Imbolc) brought this idea to the Germans, and centuries later the Germans who settled the New World brought this idea with them.
Since there weren’t any hedgehogs in the New World where the German settler’s setteled, they substituted a ground hog for the hedgehog. So even though Groundhog Day is rooted in superstition, it is apparently rooted in a post Pagan superstition. At any rate, the Wiccans believe their goddess has now recovered from "giving birth to the god" at Yule. She can now turn her energies to nurturing him, so he can be her husband someday (yuck!). As the days grew longer, superstitious heathens thought their sun god was maturing and growing stronger(or at least we are told they thought this). This idea of Imbolc marking the recovery of the goddess from giving birth to the "sun god" at Yule was first put forth by Margrett Murray's in 1921, but there is no historic basis for this. She simply invented the idea.
"Candlemas", the Church holiday which coincidentally falls on this date, was meant to commemorate the presentation of Christ at the Temple. Candlemas was placed on Feb. 2 by church councils in Rome who had no idea what Imbolc was since it was a Celt holiday and they lived in Italy. The fact that Candlemas and Imbolic fall on the same day have more to do with chance than anything else. Ronald Hutton noted that "Its especial association with candles, evident during the course of the early Middle Ages, was suggested by Simeon's words, read out at the service, that the child would be "a light to lighten the Gentiles."
So the reason Roman Catholics light candles on Candlemas is for Christ, not a throwback to goddess worship!!! And if the groundhog seeing his shadow brings even more cold weather, why not just let the poor thing sleep? Ah, all this scientific stuff! Folks up north seem to take more interest in it than folks down south, maybe because the winters are milder in the south. Or could it be Yankees aren't as smart as southern folks and don't know groundhogs don't control the weather?
NOTE: I am not saying Groundhog Day is evil. Groundhog Day is one of the holidays that are pretty much useless, like Arbor Day, or Albanian Vegetarian Day,but at least they keep the banks and Post Office open. I used to own a prairie dog, does that count for anything?
March 22nd (or close to it) Ostara, or the Vernal (Spring) Equinox
By the more superstitious types, the equinoxes are thought to be "magickal" times when the day and night are equal(6). In reality, it's just because of the earth's position in its orbit to the sun, there is no magic involved! Winter is gone, and now spring is about to be sprung. Supposedly Pagans in ancient times believed the sun "god" was continuing to get stronger because the days were become longer. It was like he was working out at the gym three times a week now or something. This is the time of the year when the day light increases the most from day to day.
Neopagans and Wiccans take this as a sign that their god is at full power. Some folks think symbols of the heathen past have worked their way into Easter celebrations, such as colored eggs, bunnies, baby ducks and other newborn animals. However, in the book Stations Of The Sun, historian and author Ronald Hutton says he discovered many things about Easter like those mentioned were added during the Christian Era, and have no connection to ancient Paganism. It's just Witch-ful thinking, and misinformation!
There is no conclusive evidence of any festival or holiday connected to the spring solstice in ancient Pagan times. The reason Christians celebrate Easter in the springtime is because we know from the scriptures that Christ’s death and resurrection. happened after the Jewish holiday of Passover. It wasn’t done to stamp out some Pagan springtime holiday. "Easter" is just an Old English word for "Spring", the time Easter occurred. There is the false idea that "Easter" is the name of a Germanic goddess and this is why the word "Easter" is the same in German and English.
Many Wiccans are quick to quip that Easter is an ancient Pagan religion, and that even the very name is derived from the name of a Pagan goddess. However, Caedmon Parsons, an Eastern Orthodox and scholar of Middle Age writings, clarifies the true history of the word Easter. Apart from a misinterpretation of one mention in St. Bede's scientific treatise, De Temporarum Ratione, there is absolutely no evidence for a Germanic goddess with a name in any way resembling the word Easter. Every other recorded use of the term is in a Christian context. In an article on the true origins of the word and holiday "Easter", he notes:
"Every other recorded use of the term is in a Christian context. Rather than the term being derived from a goddess, the supposed goddess is derived from the term. She was postulated by certain 19th century Germanic scholars in an attempt to explain the etymology of the word. These same scholars (foremost among them the Grimm brothers, famous for their folk-tale collections and less well-known as the discoverers of the ‘Indo-European’ linguistic family) had a very definite nationalist/ethnic agenda in which they were trying to rediscover the "real" roots of German culture. Thus the folk-tale collection's avowed purpose was to search for ‘survivals’ of pre-Christian Germanic religion and culture."
So the "Easter goddess" is really an invention to make a Pagan connection that really isn’t there! Likewise many customs considered to be straight out of the Pagan past are really Christian inventions. The Maypole for instance...a game nobody but some Wiccans play anymore, (only to them it’s serious) turned out to be an invention of the Middle Ages, and nothing to do with "phallic worship". It was just a game. The idea came about out of bad anthropology by people like Margret Murray, and over-Freudian imaginations. The simple reason why the word "Easter" is used in both English and German is because Germans were evangelized by Anglo-Saxon Christians.
This is the same reason the word for Easter in Russian, "Pascha" is the same as it is in Greek; i.e. Greeks evangelized Russians. If "Easter" ever was a Pagan holiday or a Pagan goddess, both terms had disappeared by the time people started using the term Easter to describe the Christian holiday celebrating Christ’s resurrection. Every ancient recorded instance of the usage of the word "Easter" has definite Christian connotations. So the Pagan goddess "Easter" is as non-excitant as the Easter Bunny!
May 1st May Eve, Walpurgis, or Beltane
This used to be Labor Day in America until the communists turned it into one of their big un-holidays. Beltane is also known as May Day and Walpurgis, and it falls on anywhere between April 30 or May 2nd. To Neopagans it is the greatest fertility celebration on the calendar and it marks the beginning of summer. In Germany Walpurgisnacht (Walpurgis night) took on some really weird imagery, and was thought to be a time when ghosts, vampires, and their kind walked the earth, and a good time to be indoors! Bram Stoker wrote a short story about it that you might have read titled Dracula’s Guest.
Walpurgisnacht sounds more like Hallowe’en than a summer celebration. The ancient Pagan Welsh used to have the same idea about this holiday too. This shows these holidays are not as universal as everyone thinks. In Modern Wicca, the mating ritual is carried over into the sabbat symbolism by the ritual sex of the Oak King with the goddess. Usually, this is just an athame dipped into a chalice of wine, but in some covens it is actual sex between coven members, not just "symbolic". It’s not hard to see the appeal of this religion for some folks. When the charge that Wicca is about sex is brought up, these types will shake their heads and say "Silly Christians and agnostics, you just don’t understand". Yeah, sure we don't. Anyway, so the story goes, the Wiccan god not only mates with the goddess, but dies out of love for her. She then resurrects him and he continues reigning over the waxing year. Now the goddess is pregnant with a new sun god at Yule. Wiccans say similar fertility rituals were supposed to help insure a bountiful crop in the coming season, but as we can see from Walpurgisnacht, this was not a universal idea throughout ancient Europe.
June 21st Litha, Midsummer, the Summer Solstice
Litha is also known as Midsummer and St. John's Day. It is the Summer Solstice and occurs about June 22nd. Since it is the longest day of the year, superstitious Pagans of the past believed the sun god was at his absolute most powerful. Yesiree, the pedal was all the way to the floor now! In reality, it simply had to do with the earth and its distance from the sun. In fact, the ancient Pagans may not have taken much notice of this day at all, but this is what modern Neopagans believe how this day was observed. But at any rate, Neopagans feel from this day the days of the year will start to get shorter and the "sun god" will become weaker and weaker, in desperate need of a shot of B-12, or something.
In Pagan religions the Holly King (the King of the waning year), would to take over rulership from the Oak King. As at Yule, he does this by defeating and slaying him. The Holly King will now rule until he too will die in six months. Nowadays, this is done symbolically, but in the ancient Pagan religions, they actually killed someone as a sacrifice. St. John's Eve is a major Voodoo holiday in Louisiana, with rituals being performed by various groups on the banks of St. John's Bayou.
August 1st Lammas, Freyfest, Lughnasdah
Also known as Lammas or Lughmass, it is celebrated around August 1st. This time of year traditionally marks the beginning of the harvest season. The Holly King is also known as the Corn King since he rules over harvest time, and likewise has sex with and then dies with the goddess in Wiccan mythology. Wiccans say this is symbolic of reaping the grain. The Wiccan god is resurrected by the goddess so he can continue his reign. The sun god, poor thing, continues to get weaker.
Mabon Autumn Equinox, 2nd Harvest, September 21st
Basically, this is Wiccan Thanksgiving. This is the Autumnal (Fall) Equinox and occurs somewhere about the 21st or 22nd of September.The Holly king now is at his most powerful (just like Just as the Oak King was at his full power at the Vernal Equinox). . This is a time to cast protection and prosperity spells. It’s supposed to be a time of big feasts and lavish dining. According to some Wiccans activities associated with this holiday are gathering herbs and walking in the woods, but Wiccans are always doing that sort of thing anyway. The altar might be decorated with a horn of plenty, acorns, apples, ivy, and the "fruits of the harvest".
In ancient times the heathen goddess was thought to be sad this time of year though, because she realized that her son and boyfriend, the sun god, was a-dyin'! Fixing to kick the bucket, I tells ya! Of course, the sun wasn't a god nor really dying at all, the earth was just starting to get farther away from the sun in its orbit. A lot of regions had a big feast when the harvest came in, but it was not necessarily out of respect to some Sun God. Modern scholars have pointed out the reason Fall was a time for a great feast was because there was an abundance of food because the crops had been harvested.
October 31st Samhain or Winter Night
Some people pronounce it "sam-HANE", but it is supposed to be pronounced "SOW-in". This is the beginning of winter and is celebrated anywhere between October 30th to November 2nd. The Frosts claim Samhain occurs on the last full moon before the Winter Solstice, which could put it in October or November. October 31st is usually the day celebrated, but it could also be as late as November 2nd. It depends on the Wiccans doing the celebrating. The Christian church started to honor all Christians who had died. Rather than being a continuation of Samhain, it is actually a parody of it. Christians who celebrated Hallowe'en started to make fun of Samhain. Christians would dress up like ghosts and goblins and frighten the superstitious Pagans who really thought they were spooks, demanding treats! Hallowe'en and Samhain are really not the same holiday as many people think it is. Hallowe’en is a bout kids wearing costumes and getting candy on the secular side of it, and to Roman Catholics it is about honoring the saints that have gone to their reward.
Even Gavin and Yvonne Frost have noted Hallowe’en was "a Christian parody of Samhain". The two really aren't the same holiday. To Neopagans of all traditions, Samhain marks the beginning of the dark half of the year and is called by Neopagans the "Feast of the Dead" (sounds like a Wes Craven movie). The poor old sun god finally kicks the bucket and will be reborn at Yule (remember the goddess that is supposed to be pregnant with him?). Supposedly, the earth seemed to die to ancient heathens at wintertime, not realizing the earth was the farthest away from the sun. In ancient times this day marked the end of the old year, which also seemed to die at this time. So it was a sort of heathen New Years Day. No honoring of Christian saints or candy with Samhain. Witches do not look at death as a bad thing, but view it as part of the cycle of life. Since they believe in reincarnation, it's just one whistlestop toward a new life. Imagery of death is everywhere in this sabbat. Occultniks of all types think ghosts of dead loved ones can come back to visit during this time. Some folks often honor their dead relatives at this time. Oh, and this holiday is NOT Satan's birthday as depicted in the Jack Chick tracts since Pagans didn't know about Satan, and there was no Celtic god of death named Samhain, as mentioned in horror movies (which is apparently where he gets a lot of his information from).
Yule December 21st Yule or Midwinter, the winter solstice
It’s been said that the Roman Catholic Church made Christmas officially fall on Dec.25th, partly to make a Pagan holiday called "Saturnalia" celebrated a couple of days later less popular.No one really knows when Christ was born, we just remember His birthday on that day. Odds alone say there is a 1 in 365 chance of it, which is much better odds than a Wiccan love spell actually working (or any spell for that matter). Because of persecution of the early Christians from the Pagans, the date of his birth cannot be known with certainty, but Dec. 25th was being observed as early as the 2nd Century A.D., so it isn’t impossible that this is on or close to the correct date. There are many Christian sects who refuse to celebrate Christmas because it falls so close to Yule. During the last 6 months the amount of day light has decreased daily. Thus, Neopagans claim the Sun God is said to be born at Yule. Now with the sun god reborn, the light will begin to return.
The altar may be decorated with evergreen tree branches, holly, mistletoe and there should be a Yule log in the fireplace, if the there is one. Few modern Wiccans seem to do this, and instead a log that can hold three candles may be used instead. In ancient Pagan cultures, so the story goes, the mother goddess gave birth to the god and he became her husband. So, the sun god was his own dad. It may remind you of the comedy song "I’m My Own Grandpa". Even though incest was a taboo in these cultures, it was thought OK for the gods to practice incest, seeing how gods could only marry other gods. Apparently the Pagan gods were hillbillies.
There are three reasons the ancient Christians decided to celebrate Christ’s birth on Dec. 25th. One reason was the Roman Empire recognized Dec. 26th as day as the birth of Mithras. In protest, persecuted Christians began to celebrate the birth of Jesus on the day before. Good for them! Let us continue to celebrate it on this day if for no other reason than Pagans can't push us around! Another reason Christians derived this day to be the birth of Christ is that Jewish tradition held that a prophet died on the day he was conceived.
Since we know Christ was crucified during Passover, which is close to March, counting down 9 months would take us to December. The third reason (and perhaps the most important) was that the Jewish festival of C'hanukka was celebrated for the very first time on what would hae been the equivalent of Dec. 25th on the Western calendar. C'hannuka is a festival of lights. We Christians too, celebrate Christmas with many lights. Christmas is simply our C'hanukka, just as Easter is our Passover. Christians should celebrate Christmas for these three reasons if nothing else.
The Meaning of the word "Sabbat"
Wiccans like to call their holidays "Sabbats". The word "Sabbat" shouldn't really be used in this context. "Sabbat" was a term used in Mediaeval times to describe the practices of witches (i.e., not Wiccans) who would be more accurately described as Satanists. More than likely what was observed were the rites of Gnostic cults rather than the practices of some kind of underground Pagan religion. Gnostics were misguided people who created religions and cults to rebel against Christianity. Some cults even reversed the roles of God and the Devil, as Satanists today do. Margaret Murray simply borrowed the term "Sabbat" to describe holidays for her imiginary witch-cult to try to link the two together. Sabbat is not the name of ancient Celtic Pagan celebrations, period! Of course, if modern day Neopagans want to call their holidays this, it’s their right.
Can Christians celebrate Hallowe'en???
Most definately! Some Christians are creeped out by the idea of Hallowe'en, and feel it's a Pagan Holiday that shouldn't be celebrated. I know, it's a tough choice...candy or damnation. But not only is Hallowe'en OK to celebrate, it can be a great time to witness! The controversy stems from claims by both Neopagans and some christians alike that Hallowe'en is actually the Celtic Holiday "Samhain", pronounced "SOW-IN". You may have heard how the Samahain was the Celtic god of death. Wrong, there was no celtic god of death named Samhain.
The Roman Catholic Church created Hallowe'en to mock Samhain. Hallowe'en is a contraction for "All Hallowed's Evening", also called "All Saints Day". It was the evening before All Halloweds Day (All Saints Day). Christians would dress up like ghosts and frighten Pagans who really believed the dead walked the earth that on October 31st! Sometimes the more rowdy ones would demand treats or else a trick would be played on the superstitious Pagans. OK, maybe frightening superstitous people isn't a very christian things to do, but the Roman Catholic Church never endorsed that part of it. But the idea of knocking down superstition is always a good thing.
On October 31st, I'm not celebrating "Samhain", I'm celebrating "All Hallowed Eve". I encourage you to do the same, because you will never have a better time of year to reach out to people. You can give out Bible tracts (tasteful ones, not the crazy ones that say Halloween is the "Devil's birthday". Think more along the lines of "Chalie's Ants" or "Somebody Loves Me". I give out Bibles (along with candy of course) to both kids and adults on Hallowe'en. If you have one of those "Everything's A Dollar" type stores, you can find cheap ones there. I found about 2 dozen new looking New Testaments at a thrift store for 10 cents a piece. If you look a round, you can find some cheap ones. Look around and you can find some good deals, if you want to go this route. If you wanted to, you could buy 1 $1 KJV a week for a year, and you would have 52 to give out by Hallowe'en. A buck a wek probably wouldn't break you. I've never had anyone turn one down, and people always seemed thrilled to get one. Yes, you'd be surprised how happy people will be to get a free Bible. Try it.
And of course...GIVE OUT CANDY TOO! Don't be a cheapskate. Candy certainly isn't a sin. If you're afraid the leftovers will wreck your diet, give it to a homeless person, or a shut in.
For decorations, you will probably want to make your own. certainly traditional fall decorations of corn shucks and pumpkins are OK. And there's nothing wrong with a Jack-O-Lantern. The Jack-O-Lantern carved with a silly grin isn't a celtic tradition by the way (Celts didn't even have pumpkins, it's a veggie of the New World) it's an American thing, once again done to make fun of the holiday, not meant to ward of eveil spirits as you've probably read, and the this ancient tradition goes way back to the early 20th century. I had a Jackolatern this year. And since I don't pray to jack-O-lanterns, it has no religious connotations.
Since I have a lot of Spanish neighbors, I have one sign with a picture of a santeria idol with a red circle and cross bar (as in "no) with a Bible verse banning idols. I also have a few signs ith quotes from Bible verses against occult practices. I have a big banner that says "Have A Blessed All hallows Eve". Make these signs yourself with a computer printer. You can download a program to make banners from tucows.com I use a roll of clear contact paper to laminate them so I can use them over and over.
You may have read jack-o-lanterns were originally a human skull with a candle inside. More bull. This untruth was started by a psychotic named John Todd (a.k.a., Lance collins) who scared the shortcake out of many church goerers in the 1970's with his crazy ex-Wiccan/ex-satanist/ex-Illuminati story. He's currently serving a life sentence for rape in a South Carolina prison for the criminally insane, and has reportedly converted to Wicca yet again (he "backslid" several times during his career in the 1970's).
There you have it: Hallowe'en, a CHRISTIAN holiday that's just great for witnessing!
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