Halloween is celebrated on October 31 each year. The day of the celebration has been handed down to us from our Celtic ancestors. The Celtic civilization celebrated the New Year on November 1. They believed that the day before their New Year, which was the first day of winter, was a time when the barrier between the living and the dead was breached and that the ghosts of those who had lived before could return to earth and create havoc for the living.
Of course, we no longer celebrate November 1 as the beginning of the New Year. But the religions that comprise Western Christianity, celebrate November 1 as All Saint’s Day. The day is set aside to honor all of the saints. In the Catholic faith, the day is designated as the day to honor all of the departed who have attained the beatific vision in heaven. Those of the Catholic faith celebrate the following day, November 2, as All Soul’s Day to honor the departed faithful who have not yet been purified and reached heaven.
There is evidence that All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day have been celebrated since about the year 270 AD. The name was different in ancient times and no specific day or date is mentioned in the ancient texts.
In America, the celebration of All Saint’s Day on November 1 and All Soul’s Day on November 2 can be traced back to Pope Gregory III, who was pope from 731 to 741. His decree was an oratory in St. Peter’s for the relics “of the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs and confessors, of all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world.”