Halloween, the witching hour, all-hallows’ eve, whatever you choose to call it, one of Utah’s most popular holiday’s in upon us again. Dress up, go to a haunted house, follow kids around the neighborhood soliciting candy, whatever. Just please, don’t preach that the day is evil.
Every year I hear the same people give the same story: Halloween is a celebration of Satan, and dressing up is a service to him. Coincidentally, these individuals are the same wonderful people who protested Harry Potter and feel the need to “save me spiritually.”
I imagine these good folks have erroneous views of Halloween: that it comes from an ancient pagan or druid celebration where animals were sacrificed to heathen gods and people dressed up to ward off demons from the nether-world.
First of all, let’s assume you are right, my friend. Halloween is a celebration dating back to ancient Celtic traditions. Don’t forget that Christianity is based on a man who was born to a virgin in a culture that slaughtered thousands of animals each year in symbolic salvation from Hell. This man was then murdered by his own people, and his blood now saves you from eternal damnation and brings you daily joy.
That’s just as weird as what you are saying Halloween is. There is nothing wrong with that. Practically any religious or cultural tradition is odd when glanced at out of context.
Another example: near the winter solstice every year, we hang lights on pine trees in our houses, put gifts under them, then sit around in the morning and eat candy out of socks. Oh, the candy and some gifts came from an overweight man from the north pole who landed on the roof with flying caribou and came down the chimney while we slept.
Take a minute to learn about a tradition and find out what it really mean. Halloween is not an evil holiday, nor has it ever been.
The celebration of Halloween probably comes from a combination of two sources: Christian traditions and the festival of Samhain.
It’s called “All Hallows’ Eve” because it comes the day before All Saints, or all hallows, Day. This day celebrates those people, especially holy persons or saints, that have passed on. This is primarily to think about ancestors and the examples of the past. This celebration of “Hallomass” throughout the week mixed with the traditional festival of Samhain and became what we now know as “Halloween.”
Because of the transition from Autumn to Winter, spirits were believed to be more able to cross over and visit or haunt this realm. This led to bonfires to attract spirits, dressing up to confuse them, etc, and was called “Samhain.”
I think the belief of evil traditions exists because of money. A harvest festival about honoring deceased ancestors and saints isn’t really marketable. If I wanted to turn a profit on a holiday before Christmas, I would focus exclusively on the belief of spirits being closer and hype it up as much as possible. Just like the easter bunny and Santa Claus, the original holy tradition of Halloween has been corrupted and changed for the greatest financial return.
This year, amid the pumpkin carving, trick-or-treating, haunted houses and scary movies, how are you going to remember the true meaning of Halloween? The miracle of seasons changing and another year passing, of hibernation and rebirth, remembering those who have gone before us, these all transcend plastic witch hats.
Joshua Wartena is a senior studying Journalism and Spanish at UVU and will graduate in Fall 2014. He is hoping to work as a middle-east correspondent or long-form magazine writer in South America. Josh is currently living in Orem and is the Opinions Section Editor