Why do we recognize Halloween? Where does it come from? Some people think of it as representing evil. Others are completely opposite and just think of it as a chance to have fun in a unique way. Instead of just dismissing other points of view gaining some understanding may be helpful.
Halloween, or Hallowed evening, comes on the calendar just before All Saints Day, which is November 1; and All Souls Day which is November 2. The connection is important because there are reasons for the observance that go far beyond an evening to collect candy and dress up in costumes. The rituals are in all cultures, and one of the most known is the Mexican Day of the Dead.
What is wrong with Halloween? It is always important for us to be aware of negative history that might be in our activities that we think are just for fun. Sometimes we are not aware of the foundation for the game we are playing. A few examples might include encouraging people to follow the “Rule of Thumb.” In England there are still laws on the books that say a man is allowed to discipline his wife for any social faux pax or for disobeying him by beating her with a stick no bigger in diameter than his thumb. So, when we use this expression we are affirming the right of a man to beat his wife, from one point of view. The same is true of saying we would like to attack another person with “the whole nine yards.” The ammunition belt of a machine gun is nine yards long, so if we say we want to go the whole nine yards we are implying we would like to shoot someone with nine yards of bullets.
These expressions are often used without knowing what the mean. The same is true of activities at Halloween. Do you know the history of bobbing for apples? When the nothern part of England was overrun, the victors placed the defeated people in slavery. If one of the victors wanted your child as a servant, or if he wanted to put your wife or daughter in the group of women available to him, he would capture those family members. If you wanted their freedom you could earn it by bobbing for apples. Only the apples were floating not in water, but in a bowl of acid.
The intent of this season of the year is actually a very worthwhile one. All Saints Day comes from church tradition and is intended to honor all people who contributed to the faith over the centuries, whether they are recognized as actual saints, or they were only known to a few people for their acts of faith and generosity. It is to celebrate those lives that have gone before and therefore contributed to us in our lifetime. All Souls Day, or the celebration of All Faithful Departed is the recognition of all our ancestors and giving thanks for their lives. After all, we would not be alive if they had not lived. It is a day of appreciation for all who have gone before.
It is one thing to have an excuse to dress up and pretend to be a fairy princess or a king for an evening of so-called fun. But, we should think about whether we want to honor traditions that may be based on evil If the first two days of November are set aside to honor all who have contributed to our life in some way, are we also honoring some of the evil practices when we bob for apples? I do not have an answer for you. I just believe we should all think about it, and perhaps pray about it, before we do it. And, how are we serving and teaching our kids if the only reason for the end of October and beginning of November is merely to dress up, collect candy, and play games? Isn’t it more important to thank our parents and grandparents going back to the beginning of time for giving us the world we have? And to fix the things that need fixed, because we can identify someone in the past who made things better for everyone, and we learn that we can do that too?
If you go on line you will find more than you can digest about these three days. You may need to read past the parts that are more a part of a specific denomination. But, read the information that helps you understand just how significant this season is. After all, if you don’t honor your history, why should your kids honor you?