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The Christianization of Europe was achieved through the strenuous efforts of monks and converted rulers to eradicate the 'old ways', in part by replacing them with Christian observances (interpretatio christiana). So it was with the great pagan holiday of Samhain. Hallowe'en, a contraction of All Hallows (Saints) Eve, began to be observed on October 31st as early as the 6th century, the eve of the feast day of All Saints (Hallows) on November 1st in the church's calendar; it was part of the three day observance dedicated to remembering the dead--saints, martyrs, and the faithful departed. Yet pagan traditions died very hard. Some of them became incorporated into the Christian practice such as wearing costumes and carrying hollowed out turnip lanterns while "souling", or collecting cakes for the beloved departed. This practice dates back to at least the 15th century. In France, the danse macabre took place on Hallowe'en when the dead rose to hold a riotous celebration in graveyards. The living, in costume, could join them if they had the nerve to do so. Huesos de Santos, special pastries, are still laid out for the dead in Spanish churchyards. All over Europe fires were lit to guide souls and ward off demons. In the New World, Anglican and Catholic colonists brought their Hallowe'en practices with them, although the Puritans frowned on these "popish" observances. Their strict disapprobations included celebration of Christmas! They were the original "Debbie Downer".
1. traditional folk plays by men in costume, called "mummers".
2. from Scotland, children going from door to door in disguise.
☩ Paul wrote to the Romans, "In fact, whatever can be known about God is clear to them [the perversely irreligious]; He himself made it so. Since the creation of the world, invisible realities, God's eternal power and divinity, have become visible, recognized through the things he has made...They claim to be wise, but turned into fools instead; they exchanged the glory of God for images representing mortal man, birds, beasts and snakes...they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator." Romans 1:19-25
*Frazer wrote in his preface to the third edition of his multi-volume work on the relation of magic and religion that, "we [Hegel] both hold that in the mental evolution of humanity an age of magic preceded an age of religion, and that the characteristic difference between magic and religion is that, whereas magic aims at controlling nature directly, religion aims at controlling it indirectly through the mediation of a powerful supernatural being or beings to whom man appeals for help and protection". Of course now science and its application, technology, attempts to do what magic and religion could not do. Needless to say this is a totally agnostic view of man's development. The Crucifixion of the Lamb was placed in context of a discussion of pagan myth about a sacrificial king-god in Frazer's original work. In his third edition he moved the topic to a "speculative" appendix perhaps reflecting the scandal created by his secular treatment of Christianity's central belief. Notably, Frazer accepted the historical reality of Jesus of Nazareth as a great religious and moral reformer, and considered doubts about his existence unworthy of attention.