Happy Halloween

One of the most persistent lies we are constantly told is that white people have no culture. We’re told by the media that white people need to import diversity from the Third World in order to enrich our society. Obviously, nothing could be further from the truth; just look at the world before and after Europeans improved it:

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  Where would you rather live?

Where would you rather live?

Everywhere Europeans have gone, we’ve brought beauty and joy along with us. Most beautiful of all was the society that we created, which we celebrate on our various holidays. Our culture is so great that even some non-western countries celebrate Christmas and Valentine’s Day.

  The Japanese don’t really get it - but bless ‘em, they’re trying.

The Japanese don’t really get it - but bless ‘em, they’re trying.

But there’s another side to our holidays, which is that they’re also holy days - times of deep spiritual significance. This aspect of our culture and its importance hasn’t gone away, but with modern technology and commercialization it has become harder to see, and harder to experience.

For our ancestors who lived without the many inventions that make life easy year round, and who were much more religious and closer to nature, their holy days marked a time to step back from their daily toil, and to contemplate and appreciate the life that they had.

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To make these days even more significant they were often held on a change of seasons. New Year’s Day has obvious significance, and Christmas comes just after the winter solstice, where the hardest time of the year to survive has just passed and everything would be easier from then on.

Today I’d like to talk about a certain harvest festival that marked the final day of the Celtic calendar, and grew to become an integral Christian tradition: All Hallows’ Eve, otherwise known as Halloween.

The first thing to note is that all our ancient traditions were developed in the Northern Hemisphere, which makes their significance hard to grasp for those of us who live in the Southern Hemisphere where the seasons are reversed.

  If you drilled straight down through the centre of the Earth, you’d end up somewhere in Spain

If you drilled straight down through the centre of the Earth, you’d end up somewhere in Spain

For us October 31st is in the middle of spring, but for the Celts this was the last day before winter began. As the weather was growing colder, the leaves fell off the trees, and the harvests ended. This was a sombre time of year where death was on peoples’ minds. The Celts believed that on this one night of the year, which they called Samhain, the spirits of the dead could return from the underworld and cause havoc.

  Pictured: havoc.

Pictured: havoc.

However this was also the start of the Celtic New Year, and to make up for the dreariness and to celebrate the end of year’s work, celebrations and festivals were held throughout the night.

Centuries later, Christianity was flourishing in Europe and holding together the remains of Roman civilization through faith and culture. As the Celtic people of Ireland had never been conquered by the Romans, the Pope decided to try to convert the pagans by blending their native religious holy days with Christian symbols and theology.

This lead to the creation of All Saints’ Day on November 1st (which displaced Samhain), when Christian martyrs would be remembered. Following this would be All Souls’ Day on November 2nd, which was a Christianized version of Samhain, remembering all the dead.

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All three holidays have existed as part of our culture for over 1,400 years now, however, the names have changed. All Saint’s Day used to be called All Hallows’ Day, making October 31st All Hallows’ Eve. From here we get the name Halloween.

Given that Halloween is built on merging celebration with religious mysticism, it was only a matter of time before the more recognizable parts like pumpkins and trick-or-treating showed up. Following the Black Death, images of skeletons became part of the culture, the execution of medieval catladies lead to the addition of witches and black cats, jack-o'-lanterns came from will-o-wisps, and costumes and begging were merged with the Gunpowder Plot of Guy Fawkes to create trick-or-treating.

So now you know that despite being as far from Europe as you can physically be without leaving the Earth, our heritage stretching back millennia has kept our culture fundamentally European.

We don’t need anyone to tell us that we have no culture, or that we need to import millions of strangers into our home in order to have a vibrant culture. We’ve already created the greatest and most beautiful culture on Earth.

Happy Halloween.

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