What is the Jewish equivalent of Halloween

Christians like to scold Halloween. It is meaningless and endangers Saint Martin and All Saints' Day. The pumpkin festival comes from a religious tradition. Customs researcher Manfred Becker-Huberti advises calmness.

Nowadays, Halloween is primarily an American, secular holiday. Many Christians grumble about Halloween. Only recently did Evangelical Christians express themselves who rejected Halloween. "As a father and grandfather, I cannot understand why children are included in this horror spectacle," said the chairman of the German Evangelical Alliance, Ekkehart Vetter, to the Osnabrücken Zeitung.

Some Christians are skeptical about its pagan origins; others disturb the dark, ghastly images and they are concerned for the safety of their children. And then there are still some who argue against Halloween with the Bible: "In the fifth book of Moses it finally says 'You must not tolerate anyone among you who ... conjures up spirits or questions the dead'".

But some Christians also choose to take part in the festivities. According to a recent study by market researcher Nielsen, consumers in Germany spend ten million on Halloween sweets. In 2017 they bought around 1,700 tons of fruit gum vampires, gummy eyes made of chocolate and sugary teeth for the horror festival. Christians will certainly be among them.

Halloween's religious origins

Few people know that the festival has a religious origin. Equally unknown to many is the pagan tradition of Halloween. You can already hear the religious element in the name, says the traditional researcher Professor Manfred Becker-Huberti: "Halloween is the contraction of the term All Hallows' Evening."

So "Halloween" comes from the early church's All Saints Day, a day on which Christians solemnly commemorate the martyrs. And on the eve of All Saints Day the time of remembrance began.

Origin from paganism

But the story goes back further. When Christianity came to Europe, it encountered pagan cultures. For the locals, the first of November was the early start of winter and thus a kind of end of the year. Pagans celebrated the last harvest and the beginning of winter. In this context, the Celts believed in evil spirits: "They believed that they came to earth from the hereafter and tried to catch the souls of the good," says Becker-Huberti.

In order not to be caught by the evil spirits, the Celts resorted to a trick, according to the expert. One had the idea that ghosts were white and so people also disguised themselves in white, "so that the evil spirits could not fall on them and steal their souls, but could fly past and do no evil."

Church tried trick 17 to get rid of Halloween

Heathen holidays and feast days were firmly rooted in people's cultural life.

The church tried to counter this by putting a Christian holiday close to it: a Christian alternative, so to speak. But it wasn't that easy. Today we know: Christian and pagan festivals mixed up.

Where does the pumpkin come from?

Another story about the origins of Halloween has to do with intermingling: There is an old legend from the Middle Ages, whose main character is an Irish farrier named O’Lantern. After his death he was faced with the devil, who prevented him from entering hell. "So he was a deceased who never went to heaven or hell," says Becker-Huberti.

After all, O ’Lantern received a piece of glowing coal from the devil. According to Becker-Huberti, he put it in a large onion in order to have light in the dark and not to burn his fingers on the coal. The legend then made a turnip out of coal in the 17th century. And when the custom spread with the first immigrants to the United States, the turnip turned into a pumpkin.

Even today, the hollowed-out, glowing pumpkin with a grimace is a part of Halloween. In addition, children dressed up as ghosts and ghosts go from house to house on Halloween and do something trick or treating. It has long been a tradition in the USA, but it has also spilled over to Europe.

Serenity today

Initially a thorn in the side of the churches, the churches are now more relaxed about the custom than they were a few years ago. In many dioceses there are alternative offers that sometimes with a wink of the eye want to counter the commercial pumpkin festival. They often refer to Christian festivals such as Reformation Day on October 31, All Saints' Day on November 1, or Saint Martin on November 11.

The researcher Manfred Becker-Huberti also advises calmness. For him, Halloween in Germany has developed in two directions. "On the one hand it has become a kind of party gag, a kind of winter carnival." In terms of content, the festival has absolutely no meaning for them. "Making scary pumpkins in kindergartens is something wonderful for children. And you can use it to try to overcome your fear." Therefore, one can also gain something good from the festival. He's not worried that it will crowd out Christian festivals. "I don't think that it will really take on the character of tradition here in Germany."