Every year, right around Halloween, we are treated to an outpouring of what can only be described as "scare literature" telling us about how "satanic and evil" the holiday is. After doing some research, I discovered that many of these opinions are backed up with some rather unusual and very frightening fantasies masquerading as "historical facts."
The Druids were an "oral' tradition" ... meaning that they didn't write down their teachings. Unfortunately, most of what we have on them from pre-Christian times was written by their mortal enemies ... the Roman Empire. To take what the Romans said about the Druids as fact is rather like taking what the Romans said about Christians as fact. (Athenagoras, in 176 A.D., wrote a whole tome to repudiate the accusations of atheism, cannibalism and lust directed by the Romans at the Christians).
Listed here are just a "few" of the myths about Halloween:
"Samhain was the Celtic God of the Dead, worshipped by the Druids with dreadful bloody sacrifices at Halloween."
As for Samhain being the "lord of the dead," this is a gross fallacy that seems to have been perpetuated in the late 18th and 19th centuries. There is no historic or archeological evidence of any Celtic deity of the dead named "Samhain." The names of about 350 Celtic deities are known and Samhain is not found among them. The Dictionary of the Gaelic Language says that "samhuinn" (the Scots Gaelic spelling) means "summers end."
"Halloween is a rite with pagan, demonic roots."
Halloween did not originate as a Satanic festival, but was religious in nature (the Celtic faith of the ancient Druids). The Celts did not actually have demons or the devil in their belief system. Halloween's association with Satanic worship is a modern phenomenon.
There is a big difference between Paganism and Satanism. Pagans are people who believe in more than one god. Some modern day pagans call themselves "Wiccans." Pagans do not worship Satan or the devil. Pagans believe in powers (spirits and gods) which they "ask" to do things.
Satanists are worshippers of Satan. They believe in Satan and demons which they "demand" to do things.
The Celts were pagans, not Satanists. There is no original evidence to indicate that Samhain was any more Satanic than pagan harvest festivals of other religions, like the Romans or the Greeks.
The Celts did believe in gods, giants, monsters, spirits, fairies, and elves, but these were not considered evil ... so much as they were dangerous. The fairies, for example, were often considered hostile and menacing to humans because they were seen as being resentful of men taking over their lands. On the night of Samhain, the fairies would sometimes trick humans into becoming lost in the numerous fairy mounds, or "sidhe," where they would be trapped forever.
"Evil Druids would go from castle to castle, seeking virgin princesses to rape and sacrifice to the "lord of death," leaving carved pumpkins illuminated by candles (made from human fat) for those who cooperated, and arranging demonic assassinations for those who refused to give them what they wanted."
There is absolutely "no" evidence anywhere (from tradition, Celtic texts, or archaeology) that these events ever occurred.
There is a general agreement among historians that the Celts did in fact practice some form of human sacrifice, but then, most cultures at that stage of development did. The Celts sacrifices seem to have been limited to criminals, prisoners-of-war, or volunteers. Today, we still sacrifice humans, mostly "criminals," but we now call it the "death penalty."
The finds in the peat bogs of apparent human sacrifices (or judicial killings) are mostly in Germanic territories, not Celtic.
The pumpkin is a New World plant that never grew in Europe until modern times, so it could not have possibly ever been used to make "carvings illuminated by candles."
"The Druids dressed in costumes and went from house to house asking for a contribution to their demonic worship celebration. If a person didn't give, they would be killed."
Once again, there is absolutely no evidence for this. An exhaustive Victorian survey of Irish calendar customs mentions divination games and apple bobbing as Halloween pastimes, but says nothing about food collection such as this.
Folk tradition tells us of some divination practices associated with Samhain. Among the most common were divinations dealing with marriage, weather, and the coming fortunes for the year. These were performed by such methods as ducking for apples and apple peeling.
Ducking for apples was a marriage divination. The first person to bite an apple would be the first to marry in the coming year ... much like the modern toss of the wedding bouquet.
Apple peeling was a divination to see how long your life would be. The longer the unbroken apple peel, the longer your life was destined to be.
In Scotland, people would place stones in the ashes of the hearth before retiring for the night. Anyone whose stone had been disturbed during the night was said to be destined to die during the coming year.
In conclusion, although some cults and devil worshippers may have adopted Halloween as their favorite "holiday," the day itself did not grow out of evil practices, as is very often said. The majority of the customs actually grew out of the rituals of the Celtic people celebrating a "new year" and the superstitious practices of medieval Christians (such as black cats and witches). Today, Halloween is only as evil as one cares to make it.