Trick or Treat #2

Okay. So. It took a little longer to return than expected. No excuses. Part two of the Halloween–yes, love it, or nay, throw it away–question is below.

There is a loooot of information — mostly confused — out there on the subject of Halloween. These are my go-to sources: “Treat or Trick? : Halloween in a Globalising World” by Hugh O’Donnell and
Malcolm Foley, and “Halloween : From Pagan Ritual to Party Night” by  Nicholas Rogers. The most popular theory is that Halloween has ties to the Celtic festival, Samhain. It was a festival where people would eat meat and slaughter cattle for the coming winter season. Basically, it was a party to prepare for the long cold dead winter. Because the winter also meant that the days were darker longer, the people held the belief that bonfires would ward of evil spirits.  This is many centuries before Christianity within the region.

During the forth century, medieval Christians celebrated All Souls’ Day. This was a time to remember those martyrs who had died for the faith. What at first was a day to remember the dead for being brave for what they believed became a day to remember all saints: All Saints’ Day. Some Christians actually still honor these holy days on November 1 and November 2. Now, people believed that during this time, dead relatives would come back to bother you about business left undone or to right wrongs. In fear of this, families would pray that for their dearly departed to transition out of Purgatory to Heaven. Bonfires and candles would be blazed with the hopes of getting rid of evil spirits. Notice the connection to Samhain. After a while, youth would take this time to make fun of those in charge. Apparently, it was expected. They would cross-dress, ring bells for dead ancestor, and make fun of people. It reminds me of that scene in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame where they’re singing “Topsy Turvy.”

Many, many, many years later, Protestants stopped believing in Purgatory, but the Catholic practices of praying for the dead did not stop. In fact, the poor would go house to house selling soul cakes to the rich. They would pray that the rich person’s relative would be permitted to leave Purgatory. As they traveled from house to house, they carried a lantern made out of a turnip. Later the turnip would be replaced by a pumpkin as a Halloween favorite.

There is Halloween summarized. What was once a harvest festival, turned holy day, is now pretty much a time to dress up, have fun, and get candy.  So, can Christians celebrate Halloween? I say, most def.



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