As all of those with children or grandchildren are aware this time of year, Halloween, or “All Hallow’s Eve,” is right around the corner. While we spend time carving pumpkins, eating sweets, and dressing in costumes, we can also take some time to celebrate the origins of this holiday and its original intended purpose.
In the 8th century, the celebration of All Saint’s Day was moved to November 1, which made the “Eve” before, also known as “All Hallow’s Eve,” October 31. While that date has stuck, the name has taken a slight change from “All Hallow’s Eve” to “Halloween.” Originally, this holiday was the vigil meant to celebrate and recognize all those saints that had “run the race and kept the faith,” as Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 4:7. And while the date of October 31, might seem arbitrary, it actually has a very specific purpose.
Many of the early Christians were born Jewish and followed the Jewish customs, traditions, feasts, and celebrations, many of which prefigured the coming of the Messiah. With Jesus coming to fulfill all the prophecies, many of the Christian feasts and holy days coordinate with those holidays on the calendar in order to mark their fulfillment. We see this most notably when Jesus offered Himself as a new sacrifice during the time of Passover, which we celebrate today as Easter.
In the fall, the Jewish people celebrate the Feast of Ingathering or the Feast of Tabernacle, which celebrates the last gathering of the harvest, while looking toward the eventual harvest, or gathering together, of people with God in Heaven. So, in celebrating the saints in Heaven around this time of year, we not only celebrate that God has fulfilled His promised to gather together His people to Himself in Heaven, but we also recognize the history of God’s people both looking forward to this blessing and celebrating its realization. As odd as it may seem with many of the modern customs of Halloween, Halloween actually points toward the celebration of people joining God in Heaven.
So, while we are amidst the typical Halloween activities, let’s take a moment to remember the Christian, spiritual origins. We can celebrate the fact that Jesus died for us, and that through Him, God has “gathered in” His children to eternal life in Heaven. Maybe, we can even spend a moment or two in prayer and reflection of our own loved ones who have passed away, and we can remember and celebrate the hope we have for theirs and our own eternal life with our Lord. It is this sweet truth that can provide the true treat to our souls this “All Hallow’s Eve.”