This morning I was reading about the origins of Halloween. From what I gathered, it originated a long time ago in Ireland as a result of merging some Celtic and Christian practices – Samhain, a ‘day of the dead’ long practiced in Celtic tradition, and All Saints day, a Catholic feast day instituted by the pope in the seventh century. There are different variations on that, but that’s the high-level view of things. In our family, we carve pumpkins (below) and the boys dress-up and trick-or-treat on Halloween night. And then the next day we celebrate All Saints day at Mass and in school.
As I was reading various things about Halloween posted on the web, I came across some negative opinions on the holiday. Jews and Muslims don’t like the holiday, and it appears that a growing number of evangelical Christians don’t either. That’s fine, to each his own, it’s a free/pluralistic society, and etc. Halloween definitely has been hijacked by consumerism – as has Easter and Christmas. And, Halloween has strayed quite a bit from its original association with All Saints Day, just as Christmas and Easter have strayed from their core meaning.
But, I still like getting together with the other dads and following our pack of boys through the neighborhood as they race from house to house collecting candy. When we finish, they all dump their candy out on the floor and start making trades – I’ll give you my snickers for your licorice – while the adults talk over coffee. It’s not evil, it’s just fun. The most threatening thing of the evening is the cavities that may develop from all that candy.