Halloween: The Untold Story

By Charles Bell, Contributing Writer

It is once again that time of year when one can easily purchase candy corn, gummy candy shaped as various grotesque body parts, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups shaped like pumpkins. Many will carve a jack ‘o lantern, and most everyone is desperately trying to find or make a creative costume. Haunted houses are open, and people are looking for a good scary movie to complete the spooky aura. Some, like the Clinton resident not too far from campus, decorate their yards with witches and ghosts. It is Halloween. Indeed, on October 31, children all over the country will be walking door to door in strange costumes to beg adults for candy. It is a marvelous time of year.

However, Halloween is not simply a time for costume parties and over-indulging in sweets. For some Christians, Halloween takes on a religious significance. According to the British Broadcasting Company, Halloween, or All Hallows’ Eve, is a significant day in the Catholic and Anglican churches, usually observed by members fasting, praying, and attending a worship service. In fact, the Catholic Liturgy of the Hours recommends the following prayer on All Hallows’ Eve: “Father, All-Powerful and Ever-Living God, today we rejoice in the holy men and women of every time and place. May their prayers bring us your forgiveness and love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Perhaps more familiar to the majority of the student body is the way that some Protestant denominations celebrate Reformation Day on All Hallows’ Eve. Reformation Day is a time to remember the Protestant Reformation and especially Martin Luther. As you probably know, Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation by nailing his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg Castle in response to the Catholic Church’s practice of selling indulgences. What you might not know, however, is that he did this on October 31, 1517. According to an article written in The Cambridge Companion to Martin Luther, Wittenberg Castle is also known as All Saint’s Church. Thus, the fact that Luther waited until the celebration of All Hallows’ Eve dictated that his problems with the practices of the Catholic Church would indeed be seen as many Christians flooded All Saint’s for the Catholic religious holiday. Luther’s work circulated extremely quickly. In fact, by 1519, copies of his work had made it as far as France, Italy, and England. The rest, of course, is history. Eventually, Protestant reformers like Luther officially split from the Catholic Church, and that impact is still felt today. Therefore, some Protestant Churches celebrate Reformation Day on October 31, and others celebrate Reformation Sunday, placing the holiday on Sunday near the 31st. Others do not necessarily observe Reformation Day.

So this year, as you make your way to a Halloween party sponsored by a club, tribe, the BSU,  or even a local church, take a moment to think about the history of this holiday. As you indulge your sweet-tooth in festively shaped candies and carve your pumpkins, think about those men who carved the very fabric of history to give us the world that we know and cherish today.

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