Sunday, November 01, 2009


Sunday Reflection: Superstition

[click on the photo to enlarge it]

That's me as a ghost, having picked up a black cat that wandered nearby last night. The cat was not so into the idea, but his timing was perfect.

Should Christians have fun on Halloween? Obviously, my answer is yes. I do wonder about opposing viewpoints on this. Are there people out there who have genuine issues with it? What are the concerns beneath it all?

Because Halloween (or Samhain) was started by the Druids. And no know ones who they were, or what they were doing.
I think that there is a certain incompatibility between Halloween and Christianity. It does have devil-based roots, and indulging our fantasies is often a bad idea.
Halloween, although a Hallmark and candy maker holiday today has Celtic and Christian roots.

Samhain as Lane mentioned and All Hallow's Eve or All Saints Eve. November 1st and 2nd are known as All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day in the Catholic church or if you are of Latin American orgin Dia de los Muertes - where family celebrate and make offerings to their dearly departed.
As Catholics we don't make offerings to the dearly departed. We celebrate their lives and pray that they will be accepted into the kingdom of heaven.
We also ask those we know are in heaven (saints) to pray for us and intercede with God on our behalf.

In Poland where I am from, All Souls is an important time where people en masse go to clean up gravesites of family and those nearby. Thousands of candles are lit by the graves creating a really beautiful time at night. And, incidentally enough, where kids are now getting into the Halloween traditions because of seeing it on American based movies and TV.

No one there is really concerned with the religious connotations, as it's seen as a commercial "holiday" that is meant as a fun time for children.
I don't think anyone is putting the negative, or historically based beliefs into a childs mind by letting them dress up as a superhero or princess.

Mind you the Catholic church added the traditions of All Saints and All Souls to bring those with druid/celtic beliefs into the fold. I, for one, am glad they did, as it creates a wonderful reminder to remember those that came before us and celebrate their lives.

The message I would give my kid wouldn't be as they were dressing up as Batman, but rather today at church.

Happy All Saints Day everyone!
Well, now that I'm not pleasantly inebriated (seriously, I couldn't type "no one knows?"), I'll explain, without the benefit of Spinal Tap quotes.

What we call All Hallow's is an appropriation by the early Church of existing heathen holidays and traditions. It's very hard to get people to stop doing things they've done for thousands of years. It's much easier to change the window dressing.

When someone accuses Halloween of having "devil-based" roots, they're not far off, but correct for the wrong reasons.

The "devil" is iconographized in modern Christianity is a bit of propaganda. Though Satan/Lucifer appear in Judaistic/rabbinical literature, as well as principle Christian literature, the popular "devil" with horns, red skin, pitchfork and cloven hooves does not. That is a Christianization of several heathen trickster figures, like Pan or Loki, piled on top of Hellenistic Greek myths concerning Hades and Tartaros. This was a way for the early Church to attempt to persuade heathen peoples to convert, by painting figures of questionable morality in their own folk traditions were in fact the principal figure of evil in Christianity, despite the fact that throughout differing places in the Bible (Job, Isaiah, Luke, etc.) Satan/Lucifer appears in different offices with differing moral connotations.

So, Halloween and its connotation to death and risen spirits does go back to the Celtic festival, which was the day when the veil between our world and the Otherworld was thinnest, allowing the gods and fae spirits free passage between our worlds. Food was left out for the bhéan sidhe (ban-shee) so that they would not play their customary tricks on people. Jackolanterns and other totems were carved to frighten off the daonie sidhe (dani-shee), or evil faeries, so that your family would be safe. Places were set out for lost loved ones, and an empty place for strangers, who could not be refused, as these may have been either the Lord or the Lady in one of their many incarnations.

Syncretism is awesome.
"I think that there is a certain incompatibility between Halloween and Christianity. It does have devil-based roots, and indulging our fantasies is often a bad idea."

"Devil-based roots"? Really?

Traditionally (in Catholic Irish tradition)

Halloween=All Hallow's Eve=Eve of All Saint's Day

Costumes=To Ward Off Demons

I have no problem with disagreeing, as long as you actually know what you are talking about.

However, the only costume that I saw last night that could actually ward off a demon was Indiana Jones. If you don't get it, rent Raiders of the Lost Ark. NOW.
I have a friend who is a practicing Pagan. Her family celebrates Samhain (pronounced Sow-when), and its a celebration of life...and death. There is no devil in it.
All Souls Day is basically a Christian co-opt of Samhain, developed to make early Christianity more appealing to Pagans. Halloween was a co-opt of All Souls Day, developed because candy is yummy.
A lot of "Christian" traditions have pagan roots. For example, Jesus was born (likely) in late August, but Christmas is celebrated on Dec. 25th to coincide with the pagan celebration of Yule, the winter solstice (we celebrate both in my house). Many of the symbols associated with Easter, such as eggs and rabbits, are actually pagan symbols of rebirth originally used in rituals associated with Ostara, a fertility holiday that is celebrated in early spring. I wonder if Christians who believe Halloween has "devil based roots" also take issue with the "devil based" practices of celebrating Christ's birth in December, or taking their children to see the Easter bunny at the mall.
I also kept a pretty close eye on my wife, a Wiccan, last night, and as best I could tell, there was no devil worship being done. Unless it happened when I we got home and I started posting on here.

My mom once had someone quit coming to bible study at her house because she had bunny decorations out around Easter. This isn't really a philosophical answer, but I think sometimes people just need to relax. I don't see anything wrong with some lighthearted traditions.
Also, there is nothing wrong with indulging our fantasies. For example, I am currently indulging the fantasy that I am going to pass my Oil and Gas exam.
Bill's family was very religious and he did not have Halloween growing up. Our Next door neighbors also do not celebrate Halloween, and their four kids do not wear costumes or go Trick or Treating. Bill can make a gorgous guitar right out of wood but he cannot carve a pumpkin at all. However our church is pretty religious and they celebrate Halloween.

I think if you separate it from the " You are celebrating the devil" thing and just view it as a fun kids holiday then it is okay. To me, to deny a kid Halloween would be so hard for them. They have so much fun!
I should also mention that Bill's family NEVER had the Easter bunny stuff ever and NEVER EVER had a Christmas Tree. never. Never a Christmas Tree.
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