Ghosts, goblins, and ghoulies will out be soon. Not to mention vampires and rock stars, princes, princesses, Jedi warriors and more. Halloween.
It’s a fun holiday! It’s a religious holiday! It’s just the scene in Chinatown, it’s both, especially when you slap it all around.
For many of the ancient peoples, it was already a holiday. Especially in Great Britain, Ireland, and northern France, where pagan Druid and cultures and others similar were very real. The night, for them, was sacred to the harvest, the gods and godesses of harvest, and a Celtic festival known as Samhein. (For those of you, like him, who call this sam-hine, it’s closer to sowe-in.) It marked the end of one year, and the beginning of another. To honor that passing and beginning, the people dressed up in animals skins and other such array. They believed that the spirits of the dead came back on this night, and the priests and priestesses could better foretell the future, and help the people through a hard and lonely winter. The had great bonfires and sacrificed animals (animals, I can’t find a reference to people, though we kind of do know because of peat bodies that they did offer up human sacrifices!)
Ahha. Along came the Romans.
Feralia and Pomona! Let’s face, one did not conquer the known world by being stupid. The Romans wanted to keep control of subdued people who learned to co-abide. It was really difficult, you see, to instantly repopulate the known world with Romans. Feralia was a holiday that celebrated the spirits of the dead. The second of the imported celebrations, Pomono, celebrated fruit and the bounty of the earth.
Hey, folks, let’s have one holiday that we all acknowledge. And thus, from this, the concept of bobbing for apples became part of the holiday as well.
By the early eighteen-hundreds, Christianity had replaced what had come before–almost. In the collective soul of many of the people, the old holidays still existed. The pope was a bright man, too. He decreed that all Hallow’s Eve might be the eve of All Saints day, and therefore, all together in a holiday that was religious–and still one that celebrated the secrets of the human mind.
Some Christians dressed up as saints, angels, and demons. Others were still dressed up as animals. Trees, maybe Roman soldiers, Celtic priests and priestesses, and more.
Now, you will still see animals, saints, angels, trees, and demons. You’ll see warlocks, witches, and vampires. You might just bob for apples, though in these days of terrible flu strains, it’s unlikely!
But you will see a few handsome fellows from Twilight now, Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles, a few rock stars, and more. There’s always my favorite. Dropping by church one night, I saw a wolfman and a vampire walk in together. Luckily, I attend a university church, and the Father–dressed in his favorite Dolphin colors–went on with the rite of communion though his church was filled with costumed creatures–and then warned everyone to be careful!
So, whatever your mode of celebration, go forth and enjoy–and just be careful. As the good Father said, “We don’t need to be adding any more souls in for next year, we’ve plenty to honor as it is!”