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Oct. 31 presents us with two holidays rolled into one! Most folks rarely think of Halloween as a time for reflecting and remembering. Concomitantly, "Reformation Day" is not typically perceived as a time to dress in costume, carve pumpkins and hand out candy. There is something for everyone in this curious juxtaposition of religious history and tradition and secular customs.
Let's sort it out. A special feast day, celebrated for centuries on Nov. 1 in the western churches, was called "All Saint's Day." This feast was designed to commemorate saints alive and dead, giving thanks for spiritual forebears who kept the faith and who bequeathed a legacy of moral values and sacred traditions. In medieval England, the day was known as "All Hallows." The previous evening, October 31, was, of course, "All Hallow's Eve."
It just so happens that ancient Celts had celebrated the end of summer on Oct. 31. Their great fire festivals were intended to frighten away evil spirits. With time, this custom took on more sinister significance with ghosts, witches, goblins, black cats, fairies and demons said to be roaming about.
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