Monday, October 26, 2009

Remembering the Roots of Halloween

Among the many egregious things the Christian Right has attempted to do is to eliminate the celebration of Halloween from public schools and public life. Chances are that every one of these so-called good Christian folks trick or treated themselves as children. This anti-Halloween movement seems to have begun to get noticed in the late 1990s when the rumors that Halloween was a Satanic holiday began to circulate.

It is true that like most of our holidays, Christian and secular, that Halloween has its roots firmly planted in the pagan past, but the association with Satan or the devil or his minions is entirely a fabricated by the Church to keep the people frightened. Our European pagan ancestors and those who practice paganism today do not even believe in the existence of the devil, much less worship him. That is not to say that there are not some disturbed people who do worship the concept of evil, but they have nothing to do with paganism or Halloween.

The celebration of Halloween in the United States is all about costumes, trick or treating, and sometimes mischief. My father told of boys tipping over outhouses and pranks of the like. What most Americans don’t realize is that Halloween or Samhain marks a sacred Celtic Day marking the end of summer and ushering in the dark half of the year. The eve refers to the day before All Souls day when the souls of those who had crossed over were honored and which the Christian Church co-opted as All Saints Day.

This ending of a season and the chance for introspection is a perfect time for transformation. The Autumn season is ideal for turning inward and examining what we would like the coming Spring and rebirth to be.


Grandma L said...

What in the world could be evil about little kids dressing in costume's and going from door to door saying, "trick or treat"?
People that don't want to participate can leave their front light off. How dumb can people get?????? That's my 2 cents worth !!!

Stephanie Frieze said...

And well worth the money, Lorrene. I totally agree. Some people seem...well...hell bent on taking the fun out of childhood.

Kim Thompson said...

Oh I agree. Halloween is great fun. Really, you can do the holiday on the cheap and have a great time (unlike other holidays).

Lorraine Hart said...

I remember first discovering Halloween when we came to this side of the was fun!!

How sad to be so fearful as to not allow fun.

Stephanie Frieze said...

Don't they celebrate in England?? How about Ireland? I thought we inherited it from Great Britain.

Lorraine Hart said...

I never heard of Halloween before coming to North America. For us it was all about Guy Fawkes Night, Nov. 5th. We'd spend weeks trying to get money..."A penny for the Guy," was the saying. The money went for fireworks...and every town had a bonfire on the Commons...burning a Guy Fawkes.

There were more Pagan Rites...but they didn't have anything to do with dressing up or candy.