Site Map Header

Ottawa Citizen Atricles Tab

Ottawa Citizen Logo

October 28, 2012

Question:  “Is there a spiritual purpose to a ghoulish celebration like Halloween?”

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 you.”   
-  Jack McLean

Home     Contact   Site Map    Web Support

© The Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Ottawa, Canada