Modern Halloween Traditions

Hell Really Exists

Hell Really Exists

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Gradually, Halloween became a secular observance, and many customs and practices developed.

The Jack-O'-Lantern: The carved pumpkin may have originated with the witches' use of a skull with a candle inside to light the way to coven meetings. However, the legend of "Irish Jack" is also told: A stingy drunk named Jack tricked the devil into climbing an apple tree for an apple, but then cut the sign of a cross into the trunk of the tree— preventing the devil from coming down. Jack forced the devil to swear he would never come after Jack's soul. The devil reluctantly agreed. When Jack eventually died he was turned away from the gates of heaven because of his life of drunkenness and selfishness. He next went to the devil who also rejected him, keeping his promise. As Jack was leaving hell (and happening to be eating a turnip) the devil threw a live coal at him. Condemned to wander the earth, Jack put the coal inside the turnip, making a "jack o'lantern." Eventually, pumpkins replaced the turnip.

Trick-or-Treat and Costumes Among the ancient Druids, "the ghosts that were thought to throng about the houses of the living were greeted with a banquet-laden table. At the end of the feast, masked and costumed villagers representing the souls of the dead paraded to the outskirts of town leading the ghosts away."17 Immigrants to the U.S., particularly the Irish, introduced Halloween customs that became popular in the 19th century. Traditional mischief-making on this occasion was eventually replaced by the familiar small children going house to house, usually in costume, demanding "trick or treat." Going from door to door seeking treats may hail back to the Druid practice of begging material for the great bonfires. (This is also related to the Catholic concept of purgatory and the custom of begging for a "soul cake.") The "trick" custom of Halloween appears to be derived from the idea that ghosts and witches created mischief on the living if they did not provide the "treats." (It became obvious to some people that a sense of humor could be camouflaged by blaming practical jokes on the ghosts or witches roaming about.)

Since 1965, UNICEF, an agency of the United Nations, has attempted to incorporate into the Halloween observance the collection of money for the United Nations Childrens Fund. This exploitation by the ungodly United Nations of this pagan holiday seems strangely appropriate.

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