Mitch Horowitz writes for today’s Big Think:
Thanks to the growing numbers of modern U.S. soldiers who practice Wicca, Neopaganism, and other nature-based traditions, Halloween is recognized as a religious festival in the military, and is probably in line to become the nation’s next major faith-based holiday.
Though people of all religions today dress up for Halloween, it is an originally Celtic holiday, “bound up with the Christian ‘All-Saints’ Day’ or ‘All Hallow’s Eve’ during the Middle Ages. But twenty-first century Wiccans see it as a deeply rooted celebration of nature and ancestors.”
Halloween is the Wiccan festival to celebrate nature, specifically marking seasonal changes and honoring departed spirits. Horowitz writes that the Army Handbook designates October 31st as the Wiccan major festival. Though most of us look forward to this weekend as a time to eat ridiculous amounts of candy and strut around in silly (and sometimes slutty) costumes, we should all take a minute to appreciate the history of this holiday.