Some trace the origins of present day “trick-or-treat” to Samhain, which was the supreme night of demonic jubilation. Spirits of the dead would rise out of their graves and wander the countryside, trying to return to the homes where they formerly lived. Frightened villagers tried to appease these wandering spirits by offering them gifts of fruit and nuts. They began the tradition of placing plates of the finest food and bits of treats that the household had to offer on their doorsteps, as gifts, to appease the hunger of the ghostly wanderers. If not placated, villagers feared that the spirits would kill their flocks or destroy their property.
The problem was… if the souls of dead loved ones could return that night, so could anything else, human or not, nice or not-so-nice. The only thing the superstitious people knew to do to protect themselves on such an occasion was to masquerade as one of the demonic hoard, and hopefully blend in unnoticed among them. Wearing masks and other disguises and blackening the face with soot were originally ways of hiding oneself from the spirits of the dead who might be roaming around. This is the origin of Halloween masquerading as devils, imps, ogres, and other demonic creatures.
Others trace “trick-or-treat” to a European custom called “souling”. Beggars would go from village to village begging for “soul cakes” made out of square pieces of bread with currants. The more soul cakes the beggars would receive, the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the dead relatives of the donors. At the time, it was believed that the dead remained in limbo for a time after death, and that prayer, even by strangers could guarantee a soul’s passage to heaven.
In many parts of Britain and Ireland this night used to be known as ‘Mischief Night’, which meant that people were free to go around the village playing pranks and getting up to any kind of mischief without fear of being punished. Many of the different customs were taken to the incorporated United States by Irish and Scottish immigrants in the nineteenth century, and they developed into ‘trick or treat’.
Traditional Halloween symbols (witches, black cats, pumpkins, candles, masks, parties and pranks) appeared in the U.S. during the late 1800’s. In 1848, millions of Irish emigrants poured into America as a result of the potato famine. With this sudden influx of people, the holiday of Druidism found its new home on alien shores. “Proudly Celtic, they called Halloween Oidche Shamhna (`Night of Samhain’), as their ancestors had, and kept the traditional observances”
[Common Boundary, Sep./Oct. 1993, p. 31].
The Jack-o-lantern is the festival light for Halloween and is the ancient symbol of a damned soul. Originally the Irish would carve out turnips or beets as lanterns as representations of the souls of the dead or goblins freed from the dead.
When the Irish immigrated to America they could not find many turnips to carve into Jack O’Lanterns but they did find an abundance of pumpkins. Pumpkins seemed to be a suitable substitute for the turnips and pumpkins have been an essential part of Halloween celebrations ever since.
Pumpkins were carved with faces representing demons and were originally intended to frighten away evil spirits. It was said that if a demon or such were to encounter something as fiendish looking as themselves that they’d run away in terror, thus sparing the houses dwellers from the ravages of dark entities. They would have been carried around the village boundaries or left outside the home to burn through the night.
Bats, owls and other nocturnal animals, also popular symbols of Halloween, were originally feared because people believed that these creatures could communicate with the spirits of the dead.
Black cats have religious origins as well and not necessarily an excuse to attack African males…“beware of a black cat crossing the street“. Black cats were considered to be reincarnated beings with the ability to divine the future. During the `(dark as in ignorant)Middle Ages it was believed that witches could turn themselves into black cats. Thus when such a cat was seen, it was considered to be a witch in disguise.
Witches and witchcraft are dominant themes of this holy day. Witches generally believe themselves to be followers of an ancient religion, which goes back far beyond Christianity, and which is properly called ‘wicca’. Witches are really just one side of a modern revival of paganism – the following of pre-Christian nature religions, the attempt to return to worshipping ancient Norse, Greek or Celtic gods and goddesses. Wicca is not about worshipping nature, although there is a more earthy element to the worship, it was not the basis of Wicca.
To witches, Halloween is a festival of the dead, and represents the “end and the beginning of the witches year. It marks the beginning of the death and destruction associated with winter. At this time the power of the underworld is unleashed, and spirits are supposedly freed to roam about the earth; it is considered the best time to contact spirits”
While you may have participated “all in fun,” be assured, Halloween is serious business for Satanists and witches. There are many who are known to organize on Halloween to observe satanic rituals, to cast spells, to perform specific acts, and to even offer blood sacrifices to Satan. While some may say, “But we only do this in fun…we don’t practice witchcraft,” those things that represent Satan and his domain cannot be handled or emulated “for fun”. Such participation places you in enemy and forbidden territory and that is dangerous ground.
Tom Sanguinet, former high priest in the Celtic tradition of Wicca (witchcraft) said “The modern holiday we call Halloween has its origins in the full moon closest to November 1, the witches’ New Year. It was a time when the “spirits” (demons) were supposed to be at their peak power and revisiting the earth planet.” He went on to say, “Halloween is purely and absolutely evil, and there is nothing we ever have or will do that would make it acceptable to the Lord Jesus.”