Where Does Halloween Come from?
Halloween has evolved and been influenced by a number of different cultures and religions, the most important of which are paganism, the Romans, the Celts (the people of Ireland, Scotland, Britain, Wales) and Christianity.
However, almost all of the traditions surrounding Halloween as we know it today can be traced back to the Celtic Day of the Dead, a pagan holiday.
Samhain was the name of the Druid god of the dead. The Druids were a religious order amongst the Celts. On this day, they would try to appease their Lord of Death. These Druids also believed that witches rode on broom sticks and that ghosts were the cause of supernatural occurrences.
The belief was that on the eve of the Celtic New Year (which for them was October 31), the souls of the dead people roamed the land of the living. The Devil, spirits and witches were also believed to be moving about and at the height of their power.
Halloween was also a time for MAJOR Shirk (making partners with Allah).
There were games and rituals which involved fortune-telling Young people, for instance, would try to see what their marriage prospects were using omens like apple pairings that were thrown over their shoulders, or nuts being burned in a fire.
The Pope, in the eight century, decided to Christianize this pagan holiday since he wanted people to abandon the occult and idolatrous practices associated with it, and made November 1st All Saints' Day or All Hallows' (Holy) Day. This is a day to remember all of the Christians who died for their faith. October 31 was then considered All Hallow's Eve, and this word later evolved into the modern day Halloween.
Some reasons behind certain Halloween traditions:
Most of the Halloween activities participated in today can be traced back to occult symbolism. For example:
1. Dressing up in costumes: This was done so that the spirits of the dead would not recognize people. The Druids would actually sacrifice animals and sometimes humans and dress in these animal skins. Wearing these clothes, the would engage in fortune-telling
Another explanation is that today, children who dress up represent these spirits.
2. Trick-or-treating: The Druids would go from house to house on October 31 and demand specific types of food. If their demands were not met, it was believed the people and their homes would be cursed with trouble, sickness and death. Prosperity was promised to those who generously donated.
Today, when kids are offered treats by neighbors, this goes back to the time people would offer food to appease the spirits.
3. Jack-o'-lantern: This started off as a legend associated with a man of Irish origin named Jack who supposedly enjoyed playing pranks on the Devil. After his death, Jack did not go to Heaven or Hell and therefore, had to wander the earth carrying a lantern which gave him some light to see where he was going. Pumpkins that were hollowed out and had candles lighted inside did the job and they were also supposed to scare evil spirits away.
Some consider them as symbols of torches of Halloweens past.
Advice to Muslims for Halloween:
1. Avoid it, it's a night of evil. Shaytan (Satan) is our open enemy and we do not play with evil.
2. Trick-or-treating is really kids begging for candy. Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessings be upon him) disliked and discouraged begging.
3. Remember that Satanic movements have engaged in dangerous acts, like rape and kidnapping on Halloween.
Dealing with Halloween: 13 tips for parents
So your kids have come home and begged you to go trick-or-treating on Halloween night (October 31). They can't wait for all of the bubble gum, lollipops and jawbreakers, not to mention dressing up in a Pokemon or witch costume like the rest of their friends.
You watch all of this in dismay. Knowing that Halloween is about Shirk (making partners with Allah) and Shaytan (see video review of Holiday Myths) you want to put your foot down once and for all and not let the kids go out that evening.
These are their tips about how you can deal with the Halloween hoopla:
Tip #1: Find out exactly what Halloween is
Too often, parents themselves are in the dark about the background of occasions and holidays like Halloween. Don't think this is a trivial matter.
Once you find out why Halloween is celebrated, you will think twice about getting your kids involved.
In fact, any parent who is trying to raise his or her child as a God-conscious individual will object to the celebration of the occasion. Just spend an hour at the library looking it up in the encyclopedia. To get an Islamic perspective, check out a review of Holiday Myths.
If you discuss it with your kids using correct information, and they sense that you know what you are talking about, they may even agree with you about not participating in the ritual.
Tip #2: Talk to them at least a few weeks in advance
This is made easier by the fact that Halloween sales of candy and costumes are already underway and the yearly ritual of horror movies being released or shown on television (see our unTV guide) will soon begin.
So the atmosphere is right to sit Aisha or Ali down to have a talk about Halloween. Talking to them now as opposed to on the morning of October 31 will give them some time to think about it too, and get used to the concept of not having to go trick-or-treating just because their friends are.
Tip #3: Rationally explain that we have our own celebrations
Talking about Halloween in the context of a fiery speech about how "these non-Muslims are so evil" will not help Aisha or Ali see why they should not participate.
Your histrionics will only blind them to reality. Instead, explain that every group or culture has its own celebrations, and we, as Muslims have our own. Halloween is a pagan celebration. But when Eid comes, that is our celebration.
Do not condemn those who celebrate Halloween. Rather, explain what it is calmly, point out its dangers, and let your kids think about it.
Tip #4: Mention the other dangers of Halloween
Horror stories about razor blades in apples, Ex-Lax laxative given instead of chocolate to trick-or-treaters, or the dangers on the street should also be mentioned, but not made the focus of the reasons why you object to Halloween.
Tip #5: Explain that every one of our occasions has a meaning
Remind your kids that for Muslims, our holidays always have a good, positive meaning.
For example, at Eid-ul-Fitr, we celebrate our joy of fasting during the blessed month of Ramadan, which is a time we strive to get closer to Allah and be better Muslims.
Halloween, on the other hand, is celebrated partly as a reminder of Shaytan, who is evil, and from whom everyone should avoid and seek refuge in Allah from.
Tip #6: Emphasize that there is nothing wrong with being different
This is crucial because there will be other occasions later on in their lives when Muslim children must not participate in school activities (for example, the Prom.
This does not mean permanent exclusion from all school and/or peer activities, but it means that as Muslims, they can take what is good, but they also have to learn to reject what is bad in a wise manner.
Tip #7: Meet your child's teacher to discuss it
Arrange a meeting to discuss Halloween and celebrations or activities you, as a Muslim would not want your child to be involved in. But also talk about what kinds of activities you would recommend or approve of, and discuss Muslim celebrations.
Volunteer to come in during Ramadan, for example, to present and bring food for the kids during a talk about what is the month's significance for Muslims. For more tips see 17 Tips for Parents to Present Ramadan in your Child's Class
Tip #8: Don't send them to school the day of Halloween if there's a party
If the teacher has scheduled a class Halloween party, simply don't send Ali or Aisha to school that day.
However, before you do this, you should write a short letter or note to the teacher and/or principal explaining why your son or daughter will not be attending school that day.
Tip # 9: Take them to a Muslim friend's house on Halloween
Don't make this a special occasion. If you regularly meet with other Muslim families and your children are friends with their children, visit them or invite them over just to play or hang out. This can take their minds off the Halloween hysteria happening outside.
Tip #10: Take them out for a doughnut
Or anything else Halal, just so you are not home when trick-or-treaters come knocking, which will reinforce the Halloween hysteria.
Tip #11: Turn off the lights, close the windows and educate your neighbors
Turning off the lights will give the message this home isn't really interested in Halloween. Closing the windows may be necessary, since throwing eggs at someone's home who hasn't given candy is not uncommon on Halloween.
Educate your neighbors about Halloween by posting a brief polite note about why you are not celebrating the occasion. Shaema Imam for example, on one Halloween, posted a decorative note on her door telling neighbors she does not support the pseudo-satanic glorification of evil as represented by Halloween. However, she said it is excellent that there is neighborhood cooperation to promote children's safety on Halloween (there were efforts in her area to ensure kids could trick-or-treat in safety).
She also expressed her support for the collection of money for Unicef, which children sometimes do when they go trick-or-treating. Imam didn't get any comments, but no one egged her house either, she says.
Tip #12: Spread the word: two to three weeks in advance, organize a seminar
This would be for Muslim moms, dads and their young kids. There should be a presentation on what exactly Halloween is and what Muslim parents can do about it.
While this is being discussed, kids should be allowed to play together under the supervision of a couple of baby-sitters. This will serve to inform moms and dads, while giving kids a chance to have fun (and perhaps set up an invitation so they can avoid Halloween night craziness-see Tip #9)
Tip #13: Keep your promise about Eid
For a number of Muslim youth who have grown up in North America, Eid is sometimes just another day, with parents not even taking a day off work.
In other cases, while parents may take the day off, the ritual is the same: get up, put on new clothes, drive to fancy hall, pray, not understand what's really going on, hug Eid Mubarak, go back home, eat "ethnic" food, get money (as Eid gift). Period. It's no wonder our kids' eyes light up when they see Christmas lights, brightly wrapped gifts and hear of Halloween fun and treats
Make Eid special. Don't just hype it up during Halloween to convince the kids not to participate and then break your promise.
On Eid, give the kids candy, take them out to dinner or an amusement park. Organize a party and invite their friends over. Arrange for them to have a gift exchange. The possibilities for Halal fun are there. We owe it to our kids, if we want them to stay Muslim and to be proud of it, to celebrate the occasions in life that really matter to us, like the two Eids.
"A person who calls another to guidance will be rewarded, as will the one who accepts the message." (Tirmithi)
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