Silk Purse From A Sow’s Ear? Halloween

~~~~~~~~~~~~Repost in Honor of the Season~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
More reposting? Iconically Speaking

Glimpses #94: Don’t let our Halloween special spook you (link updated)

Issue #94: The Hijacking of Hallow’s Eve

WE KNOW THAT CHRISTMAS is the holiday which brings the most income to business, but do you know which holiday is second most profitable? Valentine’s day? — No. Easter? — No. Thanksgiving? — No again. The answer is Halloween. Halloween has become both very popular and very profitable in the US So where did Halloween come from?

….. In the eighth century Pope Gregory II moved the church festival of All Saints to November 1. The move in part offered a substitute for the popular pagan celebration of the Celtic New Year, which honored both the Sun god and Samhain, Lord of the Dead. The Celts believed at the New Year the dead came back to mingle among the living. As the ghosts thronged about the houses of the living, they were greeted with tables loaded with food. After feasting, masked and costumed villagers, representing the souls of the dead, paraded to the outskirts of the town leading the ghosts away. Horses, sacred to the Sun god, were often sacrificed, and there are some records of human sacrifice during the festival.

…..Even into the eleventh century, many pagan beliefs were accepted by Christians–beliefs such as the fear of Fate, the use of medicinal herbs with incantations, sacrifices at springs and crossroads to the spirits of the place.

….In the tenth century, Abbot Odilo of Cluny began celebrating the November 2nd following “All Saints’ Day” as “All Souls’ Day” to honor not just the martyrs, but all Christians who had died. People prayed for the dead, and many other superstitions continued. Food was offered to the dead, and it was often believed that on these two festivals souls in purgatory would take the form of witches, toads or demons and haunt people who wronged them during their lifetimes.

Though the church was able to destroy the pagan temples, it never fully eradicated pagan beliefs.

Besides enlightening history, there is a thoughtful discussion of different approaches to Halloween at the end of the article.

For me, Halloween is simply the sow’s ear- it will always be pagan in substance and format. I settled this question a long time ago, and while I am willing to discuss it, it does not come up very high on my horizon of what is important, mostly because I generally ignore it and the attending dispute.

I love the history, however. Fascinating history.

2 thoughts on “Silk Purse From A Sow’s Ear? Halloween”

  1. I’ve been talking about this one with some family, and I think that once I have kids they won’t be doing the halloween thing. I gotta say though, the one thing I miss is the excuse to get dressed up in costume. Nobody I know has costume parties!

  2. The costumes were always the most fun thing about it… it used to be that people had costume parties as a particular theme- and there is no reaosn we couldn’t bring that back.

    The Harvest party thing is sort of lame just because it seems a watered down version of Halloween, but there is no reason that people can’t make some of their own traditions. We just always seem to feel that we have to get our cues from pop culture- but pop culture gets started by innovators. Christians just need some kick-start on being innovators in the culture. Instead of getting it backward: followers of culture and innovators of religious practice.

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