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Halloween - History, Facts and Significance in South Africa

Martie Coetser is a freelance writer from South Africa. She has a keen interest in a variety of topics.

A Wicker Man @ Wikimedia Commons

A Wicker Man @ Wikimedia Commons

In the spirit of Halloween

Observing people marveling in the spirit of Halloween, one realizes the power of tradition.

Tradition is not a senseless custom or merely a habit to be acquired and broken as we please. It is deeply rooted in earnest beliefs that were once cherished by our ancestors. It is an inherited pattern of thoughts and action that unite people on a specific level of agreement.

Halloween, a tradition rooted in Indo-European customs, never had a chance to become a tradition in South Africa, as Western culture in South Africa was established by the Dutch - the descendants of Germanic (Teutonic) people who renounced most pagan and Catholic traditions when they became Protestants in the 16th Century.

Jan van Riebeeck, who set foot on South Africa's shore in 1652, and his peers, were the third and forth generation of Protestants. By the time descendants of Celts and Roman Catholics, who were the followers of the Halloween tradition, which was by then All Hallows Day, arrived in South Africa, no room was left for the tradition to thrive.

Halloween: Ancient History

During the Iron Age the Celts were a group of tribal societies living in Europe. (Oldest archaeological evidence of their existence dates back to around 5500 BC.) By the 1st millennium AD, following the expansion of the Roman Empire and the migration of Germanic people, the culture of the Celts had become restricted to the British Isles. Recent researches alleged that the Celts were the descendants of the people of Stonehenge, who lived during the Bronze Age about 2300 BC.

Before late in the Iron Age, the Celts did not see their gods as having human shapes, though the gods were seen as ‘male’ or ‘female’. Gods were ‘skills’. The goddesses were nature; they were (in) the rivers, fountains, mountains, etc. If female gods had ‘skills’, it was to heal and love.

Celtic pagans left no written records about their religion, so for the history thereof researchers rely on archaeological evidence and the contemporary accounts left by Greek and Roman writers.

When leading his conquering armies against the Celtic tribes, Julius Caesar made various descriptions of Celtic priests (called druids) who had practiced human sacrifice by burning people in a wicker man. This was also documented by Roman writers such as Cicero, Suetonius, Lucan, Tacitus and Pliny the Elder.

The Wicker Man

The wicker man in the movie ‘The Wicker Man 7’

The wicker man in the movie ‘The Wicker Man 7’

A wicker man and other Celtic beliefs -

A wicker man - was a large statue of wicker - a hard woven fibre of plant origin such as the cores of rattan cane, willow switches, reeds and bamboo. A living person was put inside the wicker man and the latter was set alight to pay tribute to the gods, in particular to Taranis, the god of thunder. This god was also associated with the wheel and was syncretize with Jupiter, the Roman’s king of the gods (the sky and thunder). In Greek mythology Zeus was the equivalent of Jupiter.

Apparently, and hopefully true, Taranis preferred to burn criminals and thieves in the wicker men. Personally I doubt whether this is true, as sacrifices to gods were supposed to be 'pure and virtuous'.

Interesting too, is the Celtic burial practices, which included burying ornaments, weapons and food with the dead, suggested their belief in life after death, or reincarnation and transmigration of the soul. They also believed in the paranormal – the Otherworld, the realm of fairies and all kinds of supernatural beings.

The iconography of the human head allegedly played a significant part in Celtic paganism. The Greek historian Diodorus Siculus wrote in the 1st century BCE that Celtic warriors cut off the heads of enemies slain in battle and attached them to the neck of their horses. It was also displayed in other ways. One notable example was found at the Gaulish site of Entremont near Aix-en-Provence - a fragment of a pillar carved with images of skulls. In the pillar were niches where human skulls were kept, nailed into position. Until today already fifteen of these examples were found.

The Celts had their own calendar before the Julian calendar was imposed throughout the Roman Empire.

Four annual festivals divided their year into quarters.

  1. The Samhain was at the end of summer which was also the end of one pastoral year,
  2. Bron Trogain was during autumn when ‘earth was sorrowing’,
  3. Imbolc was at the beginning of spring and
  4. Beltine at the beginning of summer.

Samhain was held on November 1. This was thought of as the time when spirits of the Otherworld became visible to humans.


"Taranis Jupiter with wheel and thunderbolt Le Chatelet Gourzon Haute Marne" by PHGCOM.

"Taranis Jupiter with wheel and thunderbolt Le Chatelet Gourzon Haute Marne" by PHGCOM.

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The Romans brought an end to Celtic practices -

While the Romans crucified their criminals, or planted them alive with only their heads above the ground, they saw the burning of living people in a wicker man, and all other Celtic traditions, as barbarism.

In their efforts to civilize the Celts, the Romans syncretized the Celtic gods with their names and all with those of the Roman gods. (Syncretism implies the combining of the gods of previously separate cultures.)

While the Celts created wooden idols (sacred poles) as representatives of their gods and goddesses prior to Roman conquest, stone monuments were created after syncretism.

Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England

Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England

Halloween in the Middle Ages

The apostel Paul initiated Christianity in the Roman Empire.

In 900 CE St. Patrick banished Celtic rituals involving living offerings to their gods, who were now regarded as ‘demons’ and 'idols'. Also the persistent pagan concept of hierogamy – the sacred marriage of the king with the goddess of sovereignty, which included a sexual union that constituted the core of the royal inauguration - was banished. By the 7th century Celtic priests (druids) were of ignominious irrelevancy.

The Celtic cross was a pre-Christian symbol which was later amalgamated with the Christian crucifix.

The Samhain festival of the Celts was Christianize as All Hallows Day or The Day of the Dead, the Eve of which is Halloween.

All Saint’s Day / All Hallows Day / Hallowmas / Halloween was in the Roman Catholic Church officially Solemnity of All Saints known and unknown, weather martyrs or not martyrs.

Eastern Orthodox icons of All Saints were Christ enthroned in Heaven surrounded by the angels and the saints. At the bottom was Paradise with the bosom of Abraham and the Good Thief. The latter was the thief crucified alongside Jesus who repents of his sins and asks Jesus to remember him in the Kingdom. (Matt27:38). The wife of the Byzantine Emperor, Leo V1, was also one of the icons of All Saints.

In Western Christianity, All Saints’ Day also falls on November 1, followed by All Soul’s Day on November 2. The origin of this festival dates May 13, 609, when Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon at Rome to the Virgin Mary (Blessed Virgin) and all martyrs. This culminated on the third day in the Feast of Lemures, in which the malevolent and restless spirits of the dead were propitiated.

Because Halloween originally came in the wake of the yearly harvesting of crops and fruit, vegetables - like the pumpkin - are common Halloween symbols. Many Western Christian denominations encourage abstinence from meat - therefore the variety of vegetarian foods associated with this day.

Icons of All Saints @ Wikimedia Commons

Icons of All Saints @ Wikimedia Commons

Icons of All Saints @ Wikimedia Commons

Icons of All Saints @ Wikimedia Commons

Halloween in modern times

In America and many other countries in the world Halloween is a very popular festival.

I doubt if much thought is given to any dead saints and/or martyrs. Perhaps modern people remember and miss their beloveds who had passed away, as people tend to do during all festival.

Today, in the middle of the 20th century, having fun seems to be Halloween's only purpose. In my humble opinion FUN seems to be a god of this age. Those who refuse to bow to FUN are labeled as conservatives, party-poopers and all kinds of anti-Halloweens - which reminds me of the original practice of burning people in wicker mans, although only with thoughts and words in the mind and heart.




Skeletons in my closet,

bad memories,

the evil in my soul

tricked me on Halloween.


Treating them with forgiveness

was all I could afford.

Next year this time they'll trick me,

and I will treat them again.

© Martie Coetser

Writer's Note

I find it hard to come to terms with all the money spent on food, candy, fancy costumes and decorations during Halloween while millions of people in this world live in poverty. In South Africa alone thirty million people lives below the breadline.

Of course, people have all the right in the world to spend their money as they please, and charity does begin at home.


I still believe Halloween is the perfect opportunity to launch significant fund raising projects to the benefit of the poor, the homeless, the sick, the old and all who are TRICKED instead of TREATED by FATE.


Quotes about tradition -


"It takes an endless amount of history to make even a little tradition." ~ Henry James.


"Tradition is an explanation for acting without thinking." ~ Grace McGarvie

“Traditions are the guideposts driven deep in our subconscious minds. The most powerful ones are those we can't even describe, aren't even aware of.” ~ Ellen Goodman.

”Tradition, long conditional thinking, can bring about a fixation, a concept that one readily accepts, perhaps not with a great deal of thought” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti.

“Just because something is tradition doesn’t make it right” ~ Anthony J. D’Angelo.


"Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay." ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti.

A tradition without intelligence is not worth having.

— T.S. Eliot

© Martie Coetser

Copyright :: All Rights Reserved
Registered :: 2012-09-23 17:49:55
Title :: Halloween - History, Facts and its Significance in
Category :: Article Hub
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Updated: October 27th, 2017

© 2010 Martie Coetser


Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on November 06, 2017:

Verlie Burroughs – While reading your comment I smiled all the way. Whatever we regarded as ‘fun’ during our childhood eventually becomes a nuisance we can easily consider as ‘sacrificing’ ourselves for the sake of our children (and others). After all, we want our children to gather the same good memories we have gathered during our childhood. Halloween, Christmas, name it, is all about the treasuring and creating of memories. We do reach a stage where we are no longer willing to play along. The feeling of guilt only disappears when we know everybody around us is happy and nobody is missing us.

Don't worry about the error. HP's editors will fix it :)

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on October 31, 2017:

Sorry Martie, spelled 'Carol' singing all wrong, too late to fix,

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on October 31, 2017:

Martie, first off I love your poem. And I appreciate your Halloween history Hub, as I listen to the fireworks boom in from all directions, and see the houses on my street lit up like Christmas with bright lights and Jack o' Lanterns. If there is a Grinch who stole Halloween it would be me this year 'guilty' no lights, no candy, no costume, and getting tired of sitting in the dark waiting for it to end. Humbug, I say... But I always thought Halloween had some connection to Guy Fawkes day. Although it's a week early. Halloween was always celebrated here (in Canada) with a huge bonfire and fireworks, when I was a child, and still is today. The dressing up in costume and going door to door started really young. But I grew up in a small town, and we went door to door for every celebration. Carroll singing at Christmas, and banging pots and pans at New Year's. There were dances, and costume parties later when we were teenagers. I never questioned any of it. Now I do, because one is expected to participate. I know I woke up this morning feeling really anxious because I wasn't prepared (no candy, no lights). I tried to make a plan around doing a bonfire, but it was way too much work, and it's cold out! So, I lit a nice wood fire indoors, and kept the lights dimmed. I was so happy when I read your article, thinking I'm not the only one. So, thanks Martie. I think it's safe to turn a lamp on now, it's after 10. :)

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 31, 2017:

Peg Cole – Tradition freezes people’s minds. Having fun, packing out a party, is what the majority wants. Give them only half a reason, and they will turn an entire year into a festival. That is what happens. Questioning the doings of the masses could be dangerous. Lol! I hope your Halloween is peaceful and happy. I will soon catch up with reading and commenting on your story.

NB: That wicker-man gives me the creeps. Imagine burning people alive in them? How many thousands of people had died inside them, I wonder?

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 31, 2017:

Nellieanna Hay – I enjoyed your comment tremendously. You covered the good as well as the bad. Hopefully perspective on Halloween will eventually change, and the day converted into a fundraising project to the benefit of poor children. I hope you are having fun. I think you look adorable with your pumpkin had :)

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on October 31, 2017:

This truly is a ghoulish holiday with weird background facts and history. Wicker man? Yikes. Thanks for this rundown on it. I was really surprised at the time and money people put into yard decorations for Halloween nearly matching what they do for Christmas. And yes, it would be a good time to collect donations for charity rather than expect treats, but, alas. That is what happens.

Nellieanna Hay from TEXAS on October 31, 2017:

I mentioned that I have some thoughts about Halloween, Martie, and you invited me to share them. So . . .

Growing up in my family, Halloween was not a biggie. Mother made my costumes which were clever, but simple. Carving a pumpkin was one of the fun things, but even that was minimal, since my parents didn’t really like to waste food, and pumpkin is good food! I barely recall going ‘Trick or Treating’. I’m sure that whatever candy I may have gotten was meted out gradually by Mother, since I was not permitted to eat much candy!

A lot of kids did unkind or mean tricks, though, - separately from asking for treats. A neighbor of ours whose eye pupils were slits instead of circular owned a cleaning business in town. Mean kids would write with soap on its glass windows, “Cat-eyed Reese”. Besides the message being personally hurtful, soap is very hard to get off glass!

Another tradition back then (before TV) was the midnight spooky movies at the one movie theater. Some of them scared the ‘living daylights’ out of me! I’m still not a big fan of horror films!

As an adult, the fun traditions lingered on, though. I love to design and sew & have closet space dedicated to many of the Halloween costumes I’ve made and worn myself, from the days when an annual Halloween party happened every year. ‘Out there’ somewhere there may be numerous costumes I’ve made for others, both children and adults! I don’t attend or have Halloween parties these days but usually wear some kind of costume to greet the Trick or Treaters, and have my porch lit up, plus brightly colored bulbs in the inside-the-door fixture, so it’s inviting and safer for the kids. I will wear orange sweats and a pumpkin-top head ornament tonight. With weather that's predicted, I'll stay warm. (Oct.31, 2017)

It is delightful to see the eager faces of little kids in their costumes with Trick or Treat bags at the door on Halloween evening, with their parents lingering nearby in the shadows. Some of the kids are SO small! They look at me with awe and say ‘thank you’. But, still, - all the sweets they get from house to house all over the neighborhood are probably bad for their health, teeth and are bad training for their appetites for the nutritionally empty calories. It is legally necessary to hand out treats sealed in their own packages, so the parents needn't be afraid of contamination or poisoning. It’s sad that those are valid fears these days, but they are.

So this year, I’m handing out some mini-boxes of raisins and some Reese’s peanut-butter cups,- a little less unhealthy. Not far from my neighborhood is a Latino community, and those children are exceptionally sweet and polite. With the chilly rain predicted, though, their costumes will be covered with rain-gear and there may be less traffic. I discontinue the hand-outs when the little kids taper off and big kids with minimal costumes and manners (and maximal capacity treat bags) begin to arrive around 8:30 or 9:00. That is when I turn out the porch light and retreat into the sanctity of my house! That also happens if I run out of treats to hand out.

My concern, though, is that many big holidays are highly commercially warped versions of what were to be religious celebrations, geared for the children, which has become an insidious way of implanting self-serving and greed in the at most vulnerable ages, for one of the objectionable results. The more the electronic and internet age has infiltrated every part of life, the more those motives and results seem to permeate and grow. Some prominent politicians even give candy to kids and use the opportunity to try to foist their opinions on them.

There are also the negatives implications about celebrating ‘All Spooks Day’ and its links to ancient pagan roots and practices, which subtly permeate it with their symbols and beliefs. People don't even have to be aware of the undertones. They're so intrinsic that they become OK subconsciously. One is considered weird if any questioning or doubt about these celebrations is expressed, which shows how effectively our culture is permeated with those traditions.

There are few months of the year without some kind of major holiday, most are with religious or patriotic background and overtones, all so glitzy and festive, with their various undertones buried in the “show” and embraced automatically.

There can be little doubt that propaganda value is subtly at work. It may be innocent, but whatever works insidiously to capture and conquer people's minds and hearts sets a tone and an east acceptance of blindly following suggestions, and is questionable to me.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 31, 2017:

Nadine May – Like all traditional holidays Halloween has been captured by Capitalists. However, I must admit, I envy the Americans for all the fun they are having on Halloween. Thanks for reading this oldie again :)

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on October 29, 2017:

Thank you for promoting that interesting article about Halloween again. I will never be attracted to that event, but can you believe it, I created some Halloween designs for Tshirts. It has a great commercial link for shops to promote it and that has kept it alive. Most people have no idea where it came from apart of the yearly harvesting of crops and fruit, vegetables - like the pumpkin

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on November 25, 2016:

Thank you, Robert! I appreciate your opinions :)

Robert Sacchi on November 22, 2016:

Yes, too many times people give quotes that only give support to one side. So I really found it refreshing to see someone give both sides.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on November 21, 2016:

Hi Robert! Nice to see you in my corner. Those quotes are food for thought :)

Robert Sacchi on November 20, 2016:

An good history of the origins of Halloween. I like that you gave quotes both for and against tradition.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 31, 2016:

Hi Nadine, I believe the most important modern purpose of Halloween - and also why it is still a highlight of the year - is the opportunity it provides for relatives, friends and neighbors to bond and to enjoy some quality time together. In spite of my wish that it should be turned into a massive fundraising project, I envy the Americans for having so much fun.

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on October 31, 2016:

Fantastic article Martie. I have NEVER been attracted to the whole Halloween rage...Indeed it is hard to come to terms with Halloween while millions of people in this world live in poverty. It.s again a commercial trap.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 30, 2016:

Hi marcoujor, at least some businesses are doing well at this time of the year, and also this article :)

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on October 30, 2016:

Reading your evergreen post is now one of my Halloween traditions...and it just keeps getting better - just like our Sistahood, dear Martie.

Love you and sending you lots of treats, mar

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 17, 2015:

Hi, my dear Maria! I honestly hope Halloween will become a massive fund raising event. Someone important just have to start it, and I'm sure it will spread like fire :) Thanks so much for reading this for a second time.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 17, 2015:

Suzette, in my opinion Roman traditions were on the same level as those of the Celts. I mean, crucifying people versus burning people alive? Anyway, I learned about the wicker man during my research. See what you can find about it and let me know. Halloween celebrations hardly happen down here. Only a few party animals will perhaps organize a private costume party. I'm not sure what happens in the Catholic church. Perhaps they celebrate All Saints Day. This year I will pay special attention to this again :) Enjoy your celebrations :)

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on October 16, 2015:

Hi again, dear Sista,

I enjoyed rereading this well - researched and thought provoking piece.

I love your sense of practicality and humanitarianism - your heart is big and beautiful.

Have a BOOtiful weekend. Love, mar

Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on October 16, 2015:

Interesting article, Martie. This is the first time I have heard of The Wicker Man. That is new to me. The Celts were not as barbarous as the Romans made them out to be and this is the first time I have heard of Celtic human sacrifices. I agree with you that fundraising would be a good thing to do at Halloween and every other holiday for that reason. I will link this hub to my hub also. Have a HapoyvHalloween no matter what you do to celebrate.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 30, 2013:

@ marcoujor – good to know about that UNICEF boxes. I hope they are still around. I saw a video of children’s reactions on their parents confessions that they (the parents) have eaten all their Halloween candy. That was quite an eye-opener. Only one, or maybe three, of them did not behave like spoiled brats with no intention whatsoever to share their candy (or pennies) with anybody else. (Believe me, I don’t think my grandchildren will be any different in the same circumstances.) Considering the origin of Halloween and how the Catholics had tried to change it to less barbaric idolatry, it is absolutely clear that ‘modern’ Halloween has no significant meaning besides being a satirical mimicry of ancient beliefs. The video – I hope you will be able to open it -

@ bravewarrior – Forsaking any tradition would be unwise, but as we grow as humans we have to strengthen our traditions with the knowledge and wisdom we have managed to obtain. We should make life (and traditions) more meaningful, more worthy to treasure. Oh, let's not talk about Christmas! To be honest, Shauna, what traditions are still worthy to treasure? Life has become a rat race; people are either frantic in their gaiety or frantic in their listlessness or misery.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 30, 2013:

Martie, I spend less than $3 on Halloween. I love seeing the little kids all dressed up and having a blast. I'm a part of their joy. It's up to their parents to teach them to share and give. I've already learned the lesson. I love seeing the smiling faces and the proud parents that take the time to share a tradition with their kids. If you want to talk extravagance, we can always move on to Christmas, but I'm not willing to forsake the tradition because some people don't remember the reason for the season.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on October 30, 2013:

What is spooky is that I have not commented on this fascinating, well detailed and insightful article by my happy you shared this so I could learn some traditions and origins that I had not been aware of.

I remember as kids we would dress in simple homemade costumes and get candy as well as coins for our UNICEF boxes that we would bring back to our school for donations to the poor. I cannot remember seeing those little boxes for years but the candy never seems to does seem ironic and misplaced somehow.

Thanks for putting me a bit in the are indeed a treat all year round. Love, Maria

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 30, 2013:

@ Bravewarrior - "A tradition without intelligence is not worth having." T.S. Eliot. Now I am not judging, just saying that I don't see any intelligence in Halloween, as I also don't see in many other festivals/celebrations. Having fun is good and healthy, but when it becomes extravagant and a reckless waste of money one should go back to the drawing board and revise the vision, mission and objective. I can see a lot of potential in Halloween for healthy, intelligent and altruistic fun.

@ Drive By Quipper, I bet 90% have no idea.... :)

Drive By Quipper from Wrong Side of Town on October 30, 2013:

So, at the end of the day . . . . we have no idea why we are doing.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 30, 2013:

Martie, you've really done a great job of researching the origins of Halloween.

While I agree with you that we should think of giving to others (especially through celebrated seasons - Halloween isn't a holiday per se), I don't agree that we should forgo tradition entirely. Our children need to have the fun of celebration, dressing up and having an excuse to stay out after dark. As long as we raise our children to think of and give to others, we have done our job as parents. But our children shouldn't be denied because others in the world suffer. That will only increase the amount of the suffering in our world.

The key is education and teaching our children to be compassionate, sharing, giving individuals. They can still have their fun and give to the world at the same time. That's one reason UNICEF was once equated with Halloween. Our American children were encouraged to ask for pennies to provide for the unfortunate while they received their 'treats'. Many people in America still give pennies in lieu of treats to this day.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 11, 2012:

Hi Mary, lol for that 'stupid candy'. I agree, Halloween has its pros and cons; traditional holidays thoroughly celebrated - which is always the case when pleasing children is considered to be first priority - definitely strengthen family and patriotic bonds. However, I still believe that these celebrations are ideal opportunities for fundraising projects to the benefit of the unfortunate victims of crime and society. For example, special tax could be charged on candy... Ouch! A rotten tomato just hit me full in the face. Lol! Thanks for your insightful and smile-provoking comment, Mary!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on October 10, 2012:

When my children were young, I would take them out to "trick or treat". I only did it because they loved doing it. I hated them getting all that candy and junk. Now they are older and I am not obligated to do that. I just stay home and give out the stupid candy for other parents to worry about rotten teeth.

Very informative Hub. I voted itUP, etc.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 10, 2012:

Sharkye, we also have too many holidays down here. Only good for us who are not owners of businesses/company's compelled to suffer loss of income. Thanks for the votes.

Jayme Kinsey from Oklahoma on October 09, 2012:

Excellent hub. I love how broadly you have researched the topic. In America there are so many holidays and the stores are always full of the decorations. We forget that certain holidays aren't really celebrated around the world. Voting up!

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on September 24, 2012:

Thank you, sgbrown. I've found the research most enjoyable. As you know we cannot use all information obtained during research, unless we want to publish a series about the topic or a book. This is but only the most important in relation to the message :)

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on September 23, 2012:

Great hub! I didn't know much about how Halloween began. This was very interesting! Great research and very well written. Voted up and awesome! :)

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on September 23, 2012:

RealHousewife, it is actually sad to know that even many adults don't know the history. I myself did not know anything until I've done some research, and that after I've learned in HubPages (in October 2010) what a big event Halloween is in America. Down here we don't celebrate it at all. Maybe only here and there it might instigate a party.

I actually have an obsessive urge to know the facts behind about everything. Call me a skeptic.

Living in Africa, although in the most developed country south of the equator, I see poverty all the time. So knowing that elsewhere so much money are spent on candies, cookies and costumes, instigated by an event with such a horrible history - and not to talk about Christmas and all those presents - breaks my heart! And you know America, too, has its own welfare cases. The money spent on Halloween, even only some of it, could be spent on people who are in dire need of food, clothes and other essentials such as medical care.

I know I am extremely stingy in my capacity as a financial officer and budget controller, so I guess I should keep in mind that events like Halloween create unanimity and solidarity.

Thank you so much for your thought-provoking comment and for sharing this hub with your friends :)

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on September 23, 2012:

Daisy, I appreciate your complimentary and encouraging comment very much. Thank you :))

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on September 23, 2012:

Martie - I bet zero kids in my neighborhood know the origin of Halloween. They know that they get a ton of free candy if they walk around knocking on doors:) I'd so love to have you come to my house for Halloween!

We will set the fire pit out in front of the house on the driveway, share some alcoholic beverages concealed in McDonald's cups, haha, and mess with all the kids. Ima make these kids work for food - do some tricks, tell some jokes! lol

Great hub - I love learning history facts behind just about anything!

Daisy Mariposa from Orange County (Southern California) on September 23, 2012:


I love reading about cultures, beliefs, and rituals from other countries, from other civilizations.

My favorite type of Hubs to read are the ones in which I learn something new. I am very impressed with your article. Thanks for publishing it.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on September 23, 2012:

KDuBarry, you hit the nail on its head. Halloween never got a chance to root in South Africa, because Western Culture was implemented in 1654 by Christians and in particularly by Protestants. Since the beginning all over the world coercing of pagans into Christianity was done in a very clever way. Thank you for enhancing this hub with your comment.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on September 23, 2012:

Docmo, I've followed your advice, thank you so much. I believe the reason for the zzz is because nobody is interested in Halloween except this time of the year. Also thank you for your uplifting comment. One kind of expect some 'degree' of appreciation after doing proper research, and that would definitely not be a Zzz. I always appreciate your comments :)

KDuBarry03 on September 23, 2012:

I read about this a while back when I was in 6th grade. I thought it was very interesting how Faiths and cultures "adopted" different traditions to make it their own. One reason why they did this was to help coerce the "pagans" into the faith with some familiarization. Very interesting and tricky culture conflicts can be, eh? Overall, this is definitely a great cultural anthropological article :)

Mohan Kumar from UK on September 23, 2012:

Wonderful discourse on pagan traditions and rituals : I love your take on tradition and history , Martie, you should get a PhD for your work! I have no idea why this should zzz, as it has so much wonderful information! Maybe it just needs a few extra capsules like a video / table / maps etc- sometimes these things make a difference, I am told!

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on December 23, 2011:

molometer – Sorry you had to wait so long for my reply. I just had a look at Indeed extremely interesting. Strange how some customs manage to spread all over the world, while others just as feasible stay local. The mere fact that human sacrificing was the order of the day for ages on this planet gives me the jitters. In spite of crime I am so glad I live in the current time slot. Enjoy your hubbing, molometer. I will see you in your corner soon – before the end of tomorrow.

Micheal from United Kingdom on December 22, 2011:

How did you like the Newgrange site Martie.

Interesting hey?

Micheal from United Kingdom on December 14, 2011:

Hi Martie,

This is a great hub and covers a very interesting aspect of the tradition as it was exported globally.

Well written with loads of great information.

As a 100% Celt myself, I'd like to share another thing we built a few years

Check this out, it is part of our amazing Celtic heritage too. Predates the Pyramids.

When the Romans came to England, as you know they grafted on their christian traditions on top of Celtic traditional festivals, winter solstice = Christmas etc.

The Romans never got to Ireland. So Celtic culture survived for many centuries, until St.Patrick arrived. Then of course the English later.

Celtic life still persists in Ireland but we have stopped human sacrifices...well mostly lol

Great link up Martie. Voted up and shared on Facebook

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 31, 2011:

Sunshine, thanks for reading and commenting and posting in HubHoppers. I can understand why you regard Halloween as your favorite holiday. So much fun. All I would like to add, is some major fundraising projects in particular to the benefit of the victims of criminals - in relation to the origin of the feast - which was the execution of criminals.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on October 30, 2011:

Hi Martie! Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Up until this hub it was all about candy, costumes, children and pumpkins...thank you for the in depth lessons on this holiday! I wrote a funny hub about Halloween that I have a feeling you would appreciate. I'll post it on Hub Hoppers for you! Thanks again :))

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 16, 2011:

Sunnie, thanks for the read and the comment. I've written this one last year - and thanks to 'tradition' I can merely share it every year this time. I so wish organisations will launch significant fund raising projects that can give sense and meaning to all festivals. I really feel it is a shame that people spend money on expensive celebrations while the poor and the abused need education, save havens and food. Take care and enjoy your peeps.

Sunnie Day on October 16, 2011:

Hello Martie,

You did a wonderful job here Martie..And I agree A perfect opportunity to raise money for the needy.Turn something that may be seem as negative, turn it into a positive..

Wonderful hub.


Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 15, 2011:

Thanks for reading and commenting, Alaster. I have to pull up my socks very high to compete with you, so just figure how delighted I am with your comment.

Alastar Packer from North Carolina on October 15, 2011:

This was an amazing article Martie. Glad it was up. The Bole of Halloween was particularly enlightening. Let me just say I agree with your thoughts and sentiments here, 100%. Thank you for writing this.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 15, 2011:

elucidator – Today capitalism is the order of the day. Businesses and corporations reap the benefit of human behavior and therefore they will not stop sowing the essential seeds. But in the past, and in some cases still today, religion was the order of the day and the priests in the temples were the businessmen who exploited their fellowman. The clever entrepreneur will turn any meaningful event or law into a so-called tradition/custom. If the specific ‘tradition’ fulfills the needs of the majority, it will be kept for ages.... until a new Government decide to ban it from the calendar. And even then it could be brought to life again by the ignorant and sentimental, or by those who believe in the meaning it may entails, and all over again it will be exploited by clever entrepreneurs. People are people.... fooling themselves and others all the time. The minority, able to see the patos in humanity, is but only a breeze in a cyclone.

Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 15, 2011:

A.A. Zavala – Was it not a horrible time to live? I’m so glad I’m living in this century. Although we are still living under the guillotine of ridiculous believes and customs, they are not as barbaric. Or so we reckon. I’m sure we, too, are going to be regarded as barbarians in a hundred years from now. Thank you for taking the time to read and share your thoughts.

elucidator from SoCal on October 15, 2011:

Martie, very good hub. I appreciate the T.S.Elliot quote. This holiday, along with many others in the western culture have become chained to the tradition of spending and acquiring. They are commercial, media/advertising powered for a consumer driven society. If leaves me longing for the heart of traditions which are simple and meaningful, even if they fall short of the collective "wisdom" of diving in the rushing cultural river because that is what everyone else is doing, not realizing selflessness, simplicity and thankfulness are drowning or racing towards the falls.

Augustine A Zavala from Texas on October 15, 2011:

I had heard of the "Wicker Man", but never knew it's history. How terrible! Thank you sharing your research into the subject.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on February 01, 2011:

Danny-Tom – Thank you so much for explaining activities during Halloween festivals in America. I too have learned that no-matter what the good intensions are with the implementing of cultural festivals, the majority of people change it into senseless fun. Why? You’ve said it – that is the way it is. Throw anything in the loo and water will flush it away....

Thanks for the visit. Take care!

Danny-Tom on February 01, 2011:

Halloween in the U.S.A. is about little kids going to suburban homes to get candy from the residents greeting them at the door by saying, "Trick or treat." The children may learn to formulate interrogative sentences and ask questions such as Why? If the candy is the treat, then what is the trick?" and so on. As adults the trick becomes more than rolling someones bushes with toilet paper or putting a paper bag of dog feces on the concrete path to a door and setting it on fire; the trick becomes something of an act of sexual fore-play or even actual promiscuity if not prostitution at a Halloween party. Then there is the masking aspect: Horror Hollywood style is the usual behavior to imitate. Notwithstanding that, the scholarly approach is to read about keltic tradition and Caesar's druids and learn of the Samain calendrical reference and the traditional notion that spirits or ghosts roam about on November first. Then there are the wiccand cults of modern day witches who like to show off somehow perhaps seeking recruits to enslave by means of such mundane strategies as distributing news letters and displaying bumper stickers. Why? Why? Who knows why? Why anything? That's the way it is.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 28, 2010:

saddlerider1 – Most traditions of the past are today merely opportunities for families and friends to enjoy some fun together. And I really don’t regard this as senseless, though the consequent lavishly spending of money bothers me – in a world where most people can’t afford the bare necessities.

To know that this tradition is rooted in ancient religion, when humans were sacrificed to gods, disturbed me. Jesus was also crucified in a time like this. During the Feast of the Unleavened Bread. This was the time when the Jews, according to their tradition, expected from whoever governed them to set free one (Jewish) criminal, to celebrate the exodus out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses. And you surely remember they’ve chosen Barabas instead of Jesus. Anyway, most traditions are rooted in barbaric ceremonies or actions, even modern traditions.

Thanks for reading and leaving a comment, Ken. I appreciate your support and friendship. Don’t forget to get your trick and treat in the basement :))) Pick whatever you like.

saddlerider1 on October 28, 2010:

Martie job well done. You've researched Halloween very well and gave us all a peek into it's origin. I knew those facts but it was so nice to read more extensively while reading your hub. I look at Halloween as nothing more than a fun time for children and adults who want to dress up and trick and treat on that day. I've enjoyed it most of my life, however stopped tricking and treating by the age of 14. Thanks for the share I rate this hub Up and Up more...

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 28, 2010:

tonymac04 – Some may call it skepticism, but I need to know the origin of any tradition or rule or norm before I can buy it, and as you saw, try to make it more sensible in our current milieu, even if it is only in my personal circle. I don’t like senseless traditions and I despise the commercializing of precious traditions, although I realize the need for certain purchases... Will hub this for Christmas.

I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed this one for I actually owe you a lot of enjoyable reads in turn for those of yours I enjoyed so much. Ha-ha. Laat ek liewer nie dié wilde perd opsaal nie. It will take up all my spare time to settle this debt. Take care my friend. Hou die blink kant bo :))))

Tony McGregor from South Africa on October 28, 2010:

I really enjoyed this Hub - and your postscript was the best! It is so true. Thanks for sharing all this info and especially for the thoughts at the end. Great stuff!

Love and peace


Sa`ge from Barefoot Island on October 21, 2010:

Thank you Martie, yo are sweet to say this and thank you for following me, I am grateful :D I love your writing also I had to follow you hehe you are good :D hugs :D

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 20, 2010:

Sa`ge – Okay, I’ll wait for the maybe to become a sure thing. Between the lines of your comment I see a very kind and lovable lady. It is nice to be your follower.

Sa`ge from Barefoot Island on October 20, 2010:

Halloween was never celebrated here befor it came from the outside with the church as all souls day. yea, the missionaries brought all souls day over. that became the now combined pagan and christian together LOL even if most Christians don't like admitting to it. LOL

maybe I do one on other Hawaii traditions, not the same though, we never called then by that name. thanks for the idea, maybe I don one. maybe......... :D hugs :D

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 20, 2010:

Sa`ge – Thanks for dancing – I hope typical Hawaiian - barefoot on my buttons :))))) As I said somewhere in the comments, I did not know much about Halloween, so I had no choice but to gather some information – and that is something I really enjoy. New knowledge is a natural anti-depressant, clearly stressed by Carl Jung. I would really like to know more about traditional festivals in Hawai – so what about dancing a hub about that?

Sa`ge from Barefoot Island on October 20, 2010:

This is a wonderful hub, thanks for all the hard intensive work you did here. I loved it all. oh, I traded a treat with you in the cellar hehe. thank for the dancing, I danced all over them tabs of yours. :D

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 19, 2010:

gr82bme – Thanks for the read! Now you may have a trick and a treat in the cellar. What about meeting the wickerman? :) Take care!

Micky Dee – I agree with you, sir! I’m sure you will find some angels - instead of monsters - in the cellar of this hub.... and lots of chocolates made in heaven. Take care!

Micky Dee on October 19, 2010:

Great hub. I think I like serendipity more. Thank you Dear Martie.

gr82bme from USA on October 19, 2010:

Great job! The pictures were a plus

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 19, 2010:

katiem2 – Good to know you’ve enjoyed the read. I really need to know all of this before I can enjoy the good and avoid the bad. Thanks for reading and commenting. Don’t forget to help yourself with a trick and a treat in the cellar of this hub. You may find exactly what you want in there :))))

Katie McMurray from Ohio on October 19, 2010:

Awesome, I love both the quotes and the history. Great look at Halloween the roots bole and fruit. I love it!

Peace and Love :)

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 17, 2010:

always exploring – Well business is business. There is some secrets you’ve got to know when you want to sell milk - 1) Cows cannot be milked all day long, but you’ve got to milk them at least once in the morning and once in the evening.

People always tend to put their first priorities last. They just can’t prioritize their needs and desires – of course we do need fun. So perhaps October and December is for some people the perfect months to have fun?

So down to cellar of this hub you go, my friend. You’ve got to get your trick and treat. For you, I think.... whatever you regard as a trick and a treat.

Take care!

dallas93444 – :))) ..... What shall we say? Most of the times of the year I have a burning desire to be alone on top of the highest mountain. Thanks for reading. Your comment is truly appreciated.

Dallas W Thompson from Bakersfield, CA on October 17, 2010:

That time of the year. Thanks for sharing.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on October 17, 2010:


You have written a great hub. I read that Halloween is the second money maker in the US, Christmas being the first.Ilove to read history, but the wicker man burning is horrible.To my way of thinking, a very smart money person saw a way to make a lot of money, Halloween and Christmas and people ate it up. When i was a child we were lucky to get one gift at Christmas and we loved whatever we got, now the children get so much they hardly look at it before unwrapping another. My son would say, " oh Mama humbug" lol

Love and Peace

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 17, 2010:

Nell, I haven't seen it yet, but plan to. Not so much for the thrill, but for the historical background. I love history! Thanks for recommending it. Take care!

Nell Rose from England on October 17, 2010:

Hi, Martie, have you seen the Wicker man film? ooerrr! ha ha frightened the life out of me! the original not the remake!

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 17, 2010:

prasetio30 – This is what I love about HubPages - It gives us the opportunity to gain knowledge and to share it with each other. Before I did the research for this hub I knew very little about Halloween. Take care, my friend. I’m now on my way to learn something from you.

poetvix – To pick out the most important and relevant information for a specific hub, is almost like fishing sea fish in a river. I’ve picked only what I regarded as relevant, but there is a lot more interesting info about Halloween on the Internet. I really wish my (arrogant) post script could be implemented, though I’m sure it has been, but perhaps only on a small scale. Thanks for reading. I always appreciate your comments.

poetvix from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country. on October 17, 2010:

This is so very packed with really good information and history showing how the season was born, grew and perhaps what it should be. While I found the historical aspect of this the most interesting, really well written btw, but it was the post script that made me sigh. Your right.

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on October 17, 2010:

I find something complete about Halloween. Although I am not celebrate Halloween but this hub very interesting. I learn much from you. Good work, my friend. Vote up.


Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 16, 2010:

Nell Rose – You know the Americans – whatever they do, they do extremely well. I really feel honored to know that you found this interesting. I actually felt like a dummy, not knowing much about Halloween. So I ran back to school to get some knowledge. Oh yes, I too enjoy fancy-dress parties. Very exciting. An opportunity to be creative. Thanks so much for reading and leaving your comment, Nell. Before you go, go have a delicious treat in the cellar. Don’t mind the darkness. A wicker man will s-o-o-o-o-n eliminates all of it.

Nell Rose from England on October 16, 2010:

Hi, Martie, this was really interesting, I love it when I learn something new, and I love all the quotes, that's a great idea to do something for the needy at this time. We do celebrate it over here, more in some countys than others, but not as much as America I think, but it is fun to dress up especially the kids, cheers nell

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 16, 2010:

Pamela99 – What a treat to have you here on my page! I really appreciate your visit. Yes, I can see Halloween clearly as an excellent opportunity to involve all children in fundraising projects. Just the way they are doing it now – ask for treats, but to the benefit of the needy. It will take only one famous person or character to initiate this kind of a project.

Before you go... you may ignore the scary treats in the cellar if you wish, but perhaps you will like a little shock presented by one of those horrible bogeymen in the Underworld?

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 16, 2010:

Martie, That is a lot more history about Halloween then I knew before, but I will stick with Exodus and the Lord. Halloween is just fun when the little children come for candy all dressed up. I think your post script suggestion is excellent.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 16, 2010:

BobbiRant – It is wonderful to see you in my corner, and I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the read. Before you leave you may have a vampire-treat in the dark cellar of this hub :))

SilverGenes – So nice to see you. I’ve enjoyed the research extremely. I am now ready to participate in the challenge you initiated. Expect me in your inbox, but beware, I may step out of it to give you a great Halloween treat :))

SilverGenes on October 16, 2010:

Martie, you did a lot of research for this and covered just about everything :) Well done! Happy Halloween!

BobbiRant from New York on October 16, 2010:

Wonderful hub. This truly is informative and I love learning hubs. Well written and oh so much fun to read. Thanks for this.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on October 16, 2010:

masmasika – To be honest I cannot help but wonder why some clever businessmen as well as fundraising organizations in my country have not yet utilized Halloween as an opportunity to make money. In co-operation with the media they will hook our people thoroughly. People always grab the opportunity to have fun, not realizing that they are playing right in the hands of some clever mind(s).

Being positive I can clearly see fun as an opportunity to bond. Rather bond while having fun as bond in a time of sadness and grieve. The people in my country – so many different culture groups - really need a lot of opportunities to bond.

Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m sure your kids will enjoy the party. And please, do the article and post a lot of pictures. I’m looking forward to the read :)

masmasika on October 16, 2010:

Halloween has just sprouted here in my country recently because we normally don't celebrate Halloween. ?Today when most of my people are scattered around the world, Halloween is now becoming part of the Filipino yearly tradition. This is a time for bonding especially to kids who enjoy wearing different costumes. We will be having our Halloween Party on October 22 with the little kids. Hope to be able to post an article about it next week. thanks for the great share.

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