Myths Underlying Halloween and Myths about It

‘…The consistency of this kind of holiday across Greek, Roman, Celtic, and Christian cultures bears witness to how the holiday’s content is archetypal, reflecting the structures deep within our psyches which underlie our spiritual life (see Campbell). The numinous content of the occasion stimulates our imaginations, resulting in myths about the holiday in addition to those which underlie it.’

Mythology Matters

Halloween is full of ritual, and behind rituals lurk myths. Understanding this holiday is a challenge because it has both Christian and pagan roots in myth and ritual. Also, as is the case with myths themselves, festivals and rituals concerning the spirits of the dead have been fairly archetypal around the world and over time, making it difficult (and not always necessary) to pin down actual cross-cultural influences. When comes to Halloween, our imagination runs a bit wild and plays tricks on us. As a result of these factors, while real myth underlies Halloween, a number of myths (in the sense of falsehoods) have arisen about Halloween that color our understanding of this holiday.

In terms of its Christian heritage, Halloween must be understood in relation to All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, celebrated on November 1 and 2 respectively. The Catholic Church established All Saints’ Day to honor…

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