Part two: What Halloween is not
Halloween is not a Satanic holiday nor is it the devil’s birthday. There has never been one shred of actual cultural or anthropological evidence to support these claims.
What did happen was this. The Roman Catholic church reasoned that since pagan religions could not, in their belief system, have been inspired by God (their god), that therefore pagan religions must have been spawned by Satan.
This was, of course, absurd, and motivated by the Roman Catholic Church at that time desiring complete political power over Europe and the Middle East. It was a time when even their fellow Christians were persecuted for defying the official beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church. Any deviation from their doctrine was heresy and punishable by torture and death.
However, despite being a work of fiction, this vilification of pagan beliefs has stuck to practitioners of nature religions like stink on excrement because it benefits those who think they are the representatives of the one true religion. There is not and never has been any Satanism attached to Celtic paganism. There are Satanists who refer to themselves as “witches”, but that is an entirely different subject.
Here is another wild and unfounded claim about Halloween. Some “Christian” websites claim that trick or treat is based on the practice of Druids going from door to door demanding food and other things from the occupants of the homes. If they did not get what they wanted, they put a curse on the people inside.
This is so absurd it is laughable. First, there is absolutely no record of Druids doing any such thing. Second, Druids were highly respected and never had to demand anything. No one knows exactly what the structure of the Celtic culture was like, but it seems as though groups were organized around a king or leader of some sort who took responsibility for their well being and safety. No one had to demand anything. They all thrived or failed as a group.
Furthermore, trick or treat is based on the Christian practice of “souling”. In Britain or Ireland in the Middle Ages, small, round cakes made with spices and filled with currents or raisins were made in honor of the dead on All Souls Day, also known as All Saints Day, November 1. The cakes, known as soul cakes or souls, were given out to “soulers”, usually children or poor people, who went door to door singing and saying prayers for the dead. It was believed that for each soul cake eaten, a soul would be released from Purgatory.
This is a Christian, not a pagan belief. Pagans do not believe in Purgatory nor do they feel the need to deliver souls from it. Today’s evangelical Christians would call it a Catholic rather than Christian practice, but Roman Catholics are Christians just the same.
Later, in the U.S., this evolved into the practice of trick or treat, which did not and does not have any root in either Satanism or paganism.
Another completely erroneous claim is that Samhain, the holiday that is the root of Halloween, celebrates a Celtic god of the dead known as Samhain. As a student of Celtic mythology for more than a decade, I can assure you that no such Celtic god exists or ever did. Depending on which Celtic culture one is discussing, there are several rulers of the Other World, Gwynn ap Nudd, for instance, in the Welsh mythology, but there is no Celtic god of the dead or any Celtic god at all known as Samhain. Samhain is actually one of the many Celtic words for November.
The only Samhain (also known as Sawan) is an obscure character in Celtic mythology. His primary mention is a tale in which Balor of the Evil Eye steals his magical cow.
As to the origin of the name Halloween, though some think it is based on the Celtic pronunciation of Samhain (Sow-wen), linguists trace its origin to a corruption of the term All Hallows Eve, again of Christian, not pagan or Satanic origin.
For more, see Halloween: What it is and is not, part three.
Halloween: What it is and is not, part one
License for photograph of moon