Halloween is such a fun and festive fall celebration that has its roots in church history. Although some may say that Halloween is a celebration of ghosts, goblins and evil …
Halloween is such a fun and festive fall celebration that has its roots in church history. Although some may say that Halloween is a celebration of ghosts, goblins and evil spirits, they may not realize that Halloween’s origins are found in Christianity and even in the Bible. Believe it or not, over a thousand years ago on all Hollow’s Eve or better known as Halloween, the poor in Ireland went door to door asking for soul cakes in exchange for praying for the household deceased. The tradition of praying for holy souls comes from the book of 2 Maccabees 12:40-46 as Judah learned some of the slain Israelite soldiers were wearing idol emblems. Judah prayed for their souls and collected 12,000 drachms of silver and sent it to Jerusalem for sacrifices of offering of sins for the fallen soldiers. Not only did Judah and his men pray for the deceased, but they offered up sacrifice for the repose of their souls.
In Maccabees 12:46 it says, “It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.” The church has always prayed for the holy souls in purgatory because purgatory is a sort of a cleansing period for souls who have been baptized in Christ but die with the stain of sin. The church teaches that God, our father is love and full of mercy and compassion and desires all his children to be with him in heaven. But if our soul needs purification then we when we die, we go to purgatory for purification before entering heaven. Therefore, the church celebrates Oct. 31 as All Hallows’ Day and offers prayers for the holy souls in purgatory.
Church teaches us that if a soul is in heaven, it does not need prayers and if it is in hell there is no way out. As in the parable of rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31, Abraham told the rich man there is chasm between heaven and hell and no one can cross it. However, the book of Maccabees recognizes God’s love, mercy, and compassion. Judah of Maccabees offered up prayers for deceased’s souls which confirms the Christian belief in purgatory as a place of purification before entering heaven and meeting God face-to-face. Some Bibles do not have the books of Maccabees, but King James version has it. Books of Maccabees are rich in in history and traditions that are observed to this day. For instance, it is in the book of 2 Maccabees 10 that we have the Hanukkah celebration. Hanukkah is the commemoration of the dedication of the temple after Juda recaptured it from the enemy. Jesus celebrated Hanukkah as it is stated in John 10:22 “At that time the Festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon.” Today, Israelites around the world celebrate Hanukkah. This year, the week-long celebration of Hanukkah is set for Dec. 18-26 which coincides with the season of Advent. This year the four-week long celebration of Advent begins on Nov. 27 and ends on Dec. 24. Advent is a time of rededication of our temple (our body and soul) to God. The four-week’s themes are hope, peace, love and joy.
If you have not had a chance to read the books of Maccabees, I would encourage you to take time to read them because the heroism of the seven brothers who were martyred one after another for refusing to deny God, is inspiring to say the least. Maccabees encourages us to remain faithful to God in tumultuous times, never give up hope and always trust in our heavenly Father to deliver us from evil.