Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Thoughts on Halloween

Ahh, Halloween. One of my least favorite days of the year.

I’d be inclined not to celebrate Halloween, as I pretty much hate it.  However, as I’ve said before, I just can’t make a decision, and that applies to Halloween as well.  In my few short years on this earth, my opinions have ranged from Halloween being abhorrently evil and Halloween being a wonderful day of candy and fun.  So, what is it?  This year, I think I’ve come a little closer to settling on an opinion.

First, as a kid, I was taught that a good way to make a decision was to write down all the pros and cons:

Things I like about Halloween:
-Costumes (fun costumes not fitting into any of the categories listed on my ‘dislike’ list – but may I mention I LOVE making/wearing costumes)
-Carving pumpkins (again, things not fitting into the ‘dislike’ categories)
-the idea of honoring deceased ancestors (pretty much lost in American culture today, but a part of the celebration in the past and in other countries)

Things I dislike about Halloween:
-Anything evil or satanic (including witchcraft, spells, devils, demons, black magic, etc)
-Anything violent or insinuating violence (gore, blood, death, weapons, etc)
-Anything involving zombies, ghosts, or the ‘undead’
-Anything haunted, creepy, spooky, scary, etc.
-90% of all Halloween decorations are really tacky – fake spiderwebs, plastic gravestones, fake blood, the list goes on. We spend all year getting rid of spiders, cobwebs, etc and then put fake ones all over. I don’t get it.
-Halloween is second to Christmas in retail gimmicks, length of celebration, and decorating extravagance. It disgusts me.
-Really expensive low-quality costumes.  I really don’t understand why people waste their money on crap.
-The high percentage of women who see this as an excuse to dress like a slut.
-People who say “coshtume” instead of “costume”
-greedy kids taking handfuls of candy
-kids older than 13 trying to take my candy
-the fact that some churches host haunted houses, spook alleys, etc. Not appropriate at all!
-most of all: Most people seem totally ignorant to what Halloween really is, how it started, and what the traditions are all about. (My honest opinion is that much of this has to do with public schools – since many public schools can’t legally say anything about any religion, they can’t teach the history of any holiday traditions.  It’s a sad but true fact that many Americans have little or no desire to learn anything outside of a classroom, and so they never learn the truth.)

If I could tell every person in America something today, it would be the true meaning of Halloween.  I want everyone to understand the history and meaning behind it, then step back, take a look at what they are doing, and see if they really agree with it.  I want them especially to see if they really agree having their children participate. I think that many people just haven’t taken the time to think about what they are doing.

Halloween, like most holidays, is a mixture of Pagan and Christian traditions.  (In this case, mostly Pagan) I won’t go on about that, I figure you know how to use Google and can read more about the origin of the holiday if you want (try searching for Samhain – the Pagan celebration).  Now, you need to understand that Pagan religions (such as Wicca) are about the worship of earth (they are not satanic as some people believe, but many Pagans do call themselves witches).  I personally have no problem with looking for the good in every religion and celebrating with them the ‘good’ traditions I find.  However, I think it is interesting that Christian people are so excited to go all out in celebrating a Pagan holiday, but they don’t celebrate or even consider Hanukkah or Passover or Ramadan or Eid or Holi or Diwali.

The Conclusion:
So, I got to thinking about this, and I think I made up my mind (at least for this year).  At first, I was thinking it was time to suck it up and do away with Halloween altogether.  But then I got to thinking – if a Muslim friend invited me to a Ramadan feast, would I go? Yes, of course!  If a Jewish friend invited me to a Passover fest, would I go? Yes, of course!  If a Hindu friend invited me to a Holi party, would I go? Yes, of course! Do I think it is wrong to experience other cultures and support other faiths in the celebrations? No, I do not!  So should I see Halloween as entirely evil? No. There are many good things that our Pagan friends celebrate on Halloween, and I can join with them in this. 

As I do with all holidays (you will hear about Christmas and Easter when the time comes), I choose to participate in the holiday traditions that I feel are appropriate and that symbolize concepts that I think are ‘good’.  In the case of Halloween, this includes gratitude for the harvest, honoring my ancestors (who, before the Christianization of Europe, were Pagans themseves), and celebrating man’s victory over evil.  However, as a part of this, I also need to recognize the religions of other holidays more.  If I am going to celebrate part of a Pagan holiday in my home, I need to also be willing to have a symbolic dinner on Passover, try to come closer to God during Ramadan, etc.

So, if I don’t have fake spider webs on my bushes and a disgusting plastic zombie crawling out of my front lawn, forgive me. I will still give you candy if you knock on my door!

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