Hallow e’en is celebrated in many countries around the world today. It is an old pagan feast which became a Christian one and is now a big commercial event. Hallow e’en means Holy Evening. Hallow means Holy in and e’en is just a shortened form of evening.
We find the word Hallow in the prayer “The Our Father”
Hallowed be thy name means Holy is your name.
There is a college in Dublin called All Hallows College, meaning All Holy College.
In pagan times in the Celtic world the year was divided into just two seasons, Summer and Winter. Winter began with Samhain and Summer began with Bealtaine. The Eve of Winter was known as Oíche Shamhna. It was a night of great celebrations. The crops were all harvested at this time and before storing them they had a party. They feasted on nuts and berries, apples and other foods. They played games, dressed up and told scary stories. They believed that strange things could happen that night and that the dead would travel about.
This was a time when people believed in all kinds of magic, in witches and ghosts and spells.
When Christianity came to Ireland with Saint Patrick, the priests tried to stop the people celebrating this pagan festival. But the people wanted to continue with this feast. The priests then decided to make Oíche Shamhna a Christian festival.
They made November 1st “All Saints’ Day” and November 2nd “All Souls’ Day”.
November is the month when we pray for all the dead and visit their graves.