Our ten-minute free-write is back! Have no mercy on your keyboard as you give us your most unfiltered self (feel free to edit later, or just publish as-is).
Several years ago we had neighbors who refused to celebrate Halloween. Since then I have run into other people who feel that it’s association with dark spirits, ghouls, devils, witches, etc. turns it into a holiday that is anti-Christian.
The “celebration” of All Hallows Eve” dates back perhaps 3000 years to the Celts (Gaels) or Druids. They considered Nov. 1 the beginning of the year, a time when all the crops had been harvested, and farmers began to corral the animals for the winter. The believed that the Oct. 31 was a time when the two times (light and darkness) collided and evil spirits were loosed on the earth.
In this pre-Christian era, ancient people believed that these “demons” tried to frighten, harm, or play mean tricks on them. To escape this persecution, they offered the things the spirits might enjoy, like food and sweets. They might also have tried to disguise themselves as one of these “underworld creatures” and roamed with them. Ancient traditions often seem strange to us — their belief systems were far different from our own. When the Romans moved into these areas, they continued to condone these festivals and even adapted them in their own culture. Christianity adopted Nov. 1 as All Saints Day, (the night before being a vigil) to remember pray for the souls of the dead. There are several explanations for the bonfires; the ancient Britons used them to honor of their sun-god with bonfires, a tribute to the light that brought them abundant harvest.
So, it appears that the origins of Halloween are a mixture of old Celtic pagan rituals superstition and early Roman and Catholic traditions. So, is Halloween anti-Christian? Should we encourage our children to celebrate it with such enthusiasm?
Kids have great imaginations, and delight in thinking up costumes and alter-egos, and they certainly like treats! It’s an exciting event for them, and few consider the darker side of the holiday. Perhaps that should be discussed with them, particularly if they show an unusual interest in or fear of ghosts or evil spirits which can be part of the holiday tradition.
My long experience of Halloween is that kids are unaware of, or do not dwell on, the more serious issues that were at the basis of the ancient celebration of the holiday. Some Christians also celebrate and go to church services on All Saints Day, and that certainly is a more uplifting view of departed souls, than the evil spirits once feared on All Hallows Eve.