“Is there a spiritual purpose to a ghoulish celebration like
Answer: We have to remember that
the sacred and the profane, the pious and the pagan meet on certain
holidays/holy days on the Christian calendar. Christmas is one of those
days. Halloween is another. In the Roman Catholic church, All Hallows’
Evening (October 31), contracted to Halloween, precedes All Saints Day
(November 1), a holy day during which the church prayed for the souls
of all those who were still in purgatory and needed the assistance of
prayer to help them reach heaven. It was customary in some Christian
countries for these prayers to be offered in cemeteries, at the graves
of the departed. An All Hallows Mass was and continues to be celebrated
to assist in the progress of the souls of the departed.
The Celtic (Irish, Breton, Scots) background of Halloween comes from
the pagan festival of Samhain (pron. sow-win,
sah-win) which celebrated the end of summer with its last
harvest and preparation for the winter.
According to scholars, all the customs associated with present-day
Halloween in North America—trick or treat, bonfires, the Jack o’
Lantern, costumes, pranks—have their origins and history in the Celtic
festival of Samhain.
As for Christmas, the “spiritual purpose” of Halloween has been largely
forgotten, except by the pious who are aware of the sacred purpose of
All Saints Day. Halloween has become, instead, a time for the
celebration of the pagan soul, for disguise and for having some
harmless fun. However the spiritual purpose of All Saints
Eve, although it has been largely forgotten, is still there. That
purpose is prayer—prayer to elevate the souls of those how have left
the earthly plane.
While Bahá’ís follow the calendar of the Bahá’í Faith’s own holy days,
it is a fundamental Bahá’í belief, explicitly stated, that the prayers
of those who are still on earth can further the spiritual progress of
those who have passed on. The two Prophet-Founders, the Báb
and Bahá’u’lláh, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’u’lláh’s eldest son
and successor, all revealed special prayers for the spiritual progress
of the departed.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá counselled: “Pray for them as they pray for