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October 31 is approaching fast—a night of ghoulish costumes, haunted houses, trick-or-treating, witches, jack-o’-lanterns, parties and superstitions that we call Halloween. While the exact origin of our Halloween celebrations remains disputed by scholars, most point back to the ancient Celtic festival Samhain (pronounced sah-wen) as the precursor.
One tradition for women included standing in front of a mirror with a candle in a darkened room, where it was said that the face of their future husband would pass before them.
God makes it clear where He stands on these sorts of practices: There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch.
When Rome conquered Celtic territory and ruled for four centuries (43-410 AD), aspects of Roman paganism became fused with the Celtic tradition of Samhain.
In this Halloween greeting card from 1904, divination is depicted: the young woman looking into a mirror in a darkened room hopes to catch a glimpse of the face of her future husband.
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Since the Celtic worldview relies on a strong sense of place and the natural world for its harvest and livelihood, there was much superstition surrounding this liminal or “in-between” night.
The Celts believed the boundaries between the land of the living and the land of the dead became blurred on October 31, and the dead could cross over into this world to visit souls.