Please, Don't Scare The Kids

Are you having a Halloween Party? Discuss ideas here!
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Re: Please, Don't Scare The Kids

Post by Murfreesboro » Wed Oct 19, 2011 7:14 am

killem2 wrote:What I find the funniest of all these type of events is, Churches usually look down on Halloween, which is actually a Christian Holiday. :D
Well, it is and it isn't. All Hallows' Eve, the Eve of All Saints' Day, yes. But then, All Saints' Day was set when it was to offset the big pagan festival of Samhain, and most of what we associate with Halloween is a survival from that older holiday.

What amuses me about the hard-core, puritanical Christians, is that most of them wouldn't think of celebrating Christmas without a Christmas tree. Uh, hello? Were there evergreen forests around Bethlehem, or am I missing something? Like, maybe the Druidical tree-worship, and the winter solstice setting, had something to do with when & how we celebrate Christmas?

I am a Christian myself, and I do sometimes put a period to my Halloween festivities by going to church on All Saints' Day. It is just sort of calming to resettle into the normal world, rather like Ash Weds. after Carnival. But I do think something about the human psyche needs these ritualized times of release.

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Re: Please, Don't Scare The Kids

Post by jadewik » Wed Oct 19, 2011 8:39 am

Halloween isn't a Christian Holiday... it's a Pagan holiday to celebrate the fall harvest that was adopted by Christianity.

There is a lot of Pagan imagery in the cathedrals. Christianity adopted several Pagan holidays as well. Why? Because the Catholic church, which was imposed upon the populace in Europe by kings, wanted to entice more of the Pagans to practice Christianity. In order to entice them into the Catholic church, the Catholics adopted several of their holidays, traditions and symbolism.

All that was well before Martin Luther broke off and created the Lutheran church, which probably inadvertently adopted the Pagan elements. You also see undertones of Paganism in other religions as well.

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Re: Please, Don't Scare The Kids

Post by Pumpkin56 » Wed Oct 19, 2011 10:51 am

jadewik wrote:Halloween isn't a Christian Holiday... it's a Pagan holiday to celebrate the fall harvest that was adopted by Christianity.

There is a lot of Pagan imagery in the cathedrals. Christianity adopted several Pagan holidays as well. Why? Because the Catholic church, which was imposed upon the populace in Europe by kings, wanted to entice more of the Pagans to practice Christianity. In order to entice them into the Catholic church, the Catholics adopted several of their holidays, traditions and symbolism.

All that was well before Martin Luther broke off and created the Lutheran church, which probably inadvertently adopted the Pagan elements. You also see undertones of Paganism in other religions as well.
I remember reading this awhile back. It never even crossed my mind of intertwining Halloween and Christianity and I was pretty stunned (and annoyed) the one time I went to church with my mom (very near Halloween) and the minister was up there telling everyone that Halloween was essentially a Christian holiday. I was thinking to myself, " 'scuse me, no it's not." I'm not religious and I take no exceptions to those who are but I would definitely prefer that Halloween be left alone. It is it's own ancient holiday.

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Re: Please, Don't Scare The Kids

Post by Murfreesboro » Thu Oct 20, 2011 5:28 am

jadewik wrote:
All that was well before Martin Luther broke off and created the Lutheran church, which probably inadvertently adopted the Pagan elements. You also see undertones of Paganism in other religions as well.
I am married to a Lutheran and have permitted my children to be raised in their dad's church, so I am very familiar with that denomination. Martin Luther had a lot to do with inventing or at least perpetuating the Christmas tree. I guess he must have loved them himself. The story goes that he was walking home on a wintry night and was enchanted by the vision of the stars sparkling through the branches of the trees in the forest. So he introduced the custom of lighting the tree with candles inside the home, to emulate the stars through the tree branches. And of course the whole idea of the evergreen in the dead of winter was supposed to symbolize Christ's eternal life, and the stars were to represent the light Christ brought into the world. Obviously this was some kind of re-purposing of Druidical tree-worship, although Luther lived a very long time after the Druids. So I guess the custom of bringing evergreens indoors must have survived in that part of Germany. The English didn't use Christmas trees until after Queen Victoria married her German Prince, and he started using them for the royal family. Before that, the English had gone in for holly, ivy, and mistletoe--pagan reminiscences all. And of course, the Puritans of the 17th century had made it illegal to celebrate Christmas in England, because of all the pagan associations of the holiday. Consequently it wasn't all that big in the American colonies either, at first.

The Yule log, which is mentioned in certain English Christmas carols, was also of pagan origin. I believe it is still an important part of the Christmas celebrations in Scandinavia.

As for Halloween--it is my understanding that Samhain was the biggest festival of pre-Christian Ireland (and I guess the Celts in other parts of Britain, France, etc.). Since it involved some sort of belief that spirits of the recently dead were still walking the earth at that time, the church moved its "All Saints" holiday from May to November, trying to co-opt Samhain. The trouble is, All Saints is sort of solemn and not really much fun. Samhain was tons of fun. So the peasants never really gave it up. They just allowed it to be incorporated into the three-day church observance of All Saints' Eve, All Saints, & All Souls.

Although the Puritans didn't celebrate Christmas, nor did they observe any type of saints' days, they did have harvest festivals. That is where our Thanksgiving came from. I suppose it is just the most natural thing in the world to have a feast or celebration when your harvest is in.

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Re: Please, Don't Scare The Kids

Post by Pumpkin_Man » Thu Oct 20, 2011 3:20 pm

Interesting story, Murf. By the way, I think both you and Jadewik are right. Halloween is undoubetedly the continuation of the druid's All Hallows Eve, but it's also seen by many Catholics and other Christians as the eve before All Saints Day, and that is how I celebrate it. I am not trying to take anything away from any of the pegans on the forum, but Halloween is very much part of a 3 day Catholic observance, IN ADDITION TO being the pegan celebration of Fall.

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Re: Please, Don't Scare The Kids

Post by Andybev01 » Thu Oct 20, 2011 5:07 pm

Regardless of it's origin I think we can all agree that it's our holiday.
All you that doth my grave pass by,
As you are now so once was I,
As I am now so you must be,
Prepare for death & follow me.

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Re: Please, Don't Scare The Kids

Post by Murfreesboro » Fri Oct 21, 2011 5:45 am

I was raised Episcopalian, Mike, and we have All Saints' and All Souls' Days, too, but not as much is made of them as I guess the Catholics do.

You know, the Protestants really got away from the veneration of saints, saying that wasn't Biblical, etc. But the Episcopal church is sort of a halfway house between Catholicism & Protestantism. It is technically Protestant, but it retains a great many of the Catholic traditions. It is quite common for Episcopal churches to be named after saints. I grew up in St Andrew's in Jackson, MS; was married in St. George's in Nashville, and sometimes attend St. Paul's here in Murfreesboro.

My husband pointed out to me several years ago that it is uncommon for a Lutheran Church to be named after a saint, and he has never known one to be named after a non-Biblical saint (as St. George's Episcopal in Nashville is).

I guess this is all by way of saying that Protestants don't "get" the Christian aspect of Halloween, since most don't observe All Saints' Day.

The Episcopal Church still recognizes St. Francis's Day with the blessing of animals on Oct. 4. I don't think the Lutherans know anything about that.

BTW, no one really knows where TOTing came from, but the pre-Reformation English did have a custom called "souling" on Nov. 2, when poor children would go door-to-door and beg for "soul cakes," some kind of cookie or sweet pastry, I guess. In return they promised to pray for the souls of the dead members of the family who donated the cakes. That custom died out after the Reformation, because the Anglican church, like other Protestant churches, abolished the idea of Purgatory. Consequently there was no need to pray for anyone's soul after death.

Andy, I would agree that the modern "Halloween" is really an American holiday. After all, most people agree that its most universal symbol is the carved pumpkin, an American fruit.

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Re: Please, Don't Scare The Kids

Post by Pumpkin_Man » Thu Feb 09, 2012 5:21 pm

I was allways told that All Saints Day was the day we celebrated everyone who was in Heaven. The saints. And All Souls Day was the day we prayed for all the dearly departed souls who are waiting in Purgatory.

I heard that the concept of Trick or Treating was based on offerings that were left by the druids for all the spirits that came out during the evening of All Hallows Eve.

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Re: Please, Don't Scare The Kids

Post by Murfreesboro » Fri Feb 10, 2012 6:52 am

Yes, I've also heard that the ancient pagans left out "treats" on their doorstep for the spirits who were roaming at Halloween. And I've heard that other people started dressing up like those spirits and "claiming" the treats left for them! But I think "souling" is more recent and perhaps is a more direct ancestor of our TOT custom. However, I don't think either the ancient custom or the medieval one had been practiced for centuries when American TOTing came along. Our contemporary custom is sort of a revival, I think. I have even read that it was deliberately started in the early 20th century to distract kids from playing pranks at Halloween.

Your explanation of the Catholic All Saints/All Souls Days makes sense, from that perspective. I guess it had to be adjusted in the Episcopal church because that denomination, like all Protestant faiths, rejects the doctrine of purgatory. Consequently there is no need to pray for the souls of the dead in purgatory. All Souls' Day is more of a day of remembrance, solemnized to those who have died recently (within the past year). I have always understood All Saints' to be a day consecrated to those saints who don't have a special feast day assigned to them, but whether this includes all departed souls, I'm not sure.

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Re: Please, Don't Scare The Kids

Post by metallica_87 » Fri Feb 10, 2012 7:58 pm

I don't really know about all the religious things that go into from all the different sects of christianity, but should it really matter? I mean like a poster said above me, Christians have adopted pretty much everything going and made theirs somehow. We've seemingly had no problem appropriating everything else, no matter its connotation or background. We're the Milli Vanilli of religions. Why single out Halloween, and go after that, when there are much worse things happening?

Is it really the religious connotations of the holiday, or is it because people would actually have to act like parents to their kids and actually care to take them out and watch them have fun? Whats so horrible? Kids get to dress up, and get free candy? Any danger that could be foreseen is immediately is almost nullified by a parents presence.
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Re: Please, Don't Scare The Kids

Post by Murfreesboro » Sat Feb 11, 2012 6:18 am

I think there are a number of people who are genuinely offended or disturbed by the idea of a holiday "dedicated to Satan," which is what many Christian fundamentalists believe Halloween is. Although I am a Christian, I don't identify with these groups so much. These are the same folks who wouldn't let their kids read Harry Potter. I have friends among these people. I can tell you that they are very devoted parents. They think they are protecting their children from evil influences by denying them Halloween, Harry Potter, etc. I think they are being too strict. To me, Halloween is all about fun and creativity and imaginative license. And as I read it, the primary theme of the Harry Potter series is that love conquers death. I don't see anything anti-Christian in that.

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Re: Please, Don't Scare The Kids

Post by Pumpkin_Man » Tue Mar 27, 2012 11:35 am

Murf and Metalica, you both make very good points. Halloween is for the most part, about having fun. Yes, there are some religious aspects to it for me, but the actual day (October 31st) is pretty much a fun day. On November 1st, I celebrate all the Saints who are in Heaven, and on November 2nd, I pray for all the poor souls in Purgatory who are waiting to enter Heaven, but I think we can all agree, Christian or Peagan, that Halloween is about having fun and enjoying one's self.

I've also met up with some of these Christian fundamentalists who refer to Halloween as "satans holiday." The Evangelical Movement is among the most die hard set against Halloween. It's unfortunate, because I don't see how it has anything to do with the devil, other then some may dress up as devils for ToT, or a few of us may watch movies like "The Omen," or "Rosmary's Baby." Halloween is, at least to me, celebrating the eve before we celebrate with all those who are in Heaven. That has very little to do with satan.

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Re: Please, Don't Scare The Kids

Post by Murfreesboro » Wed Mar 28, 2012 6:03 am

There is certainly a scary, devilish side to Halloween. I guess those who object to it strenuously think that we are celebrating evil by, say, dressing up as a devil or a serial killer, etc. Maybe they even have the same feeling that you do about seances, Mike--that if we dress up as something evil, we could be unintentionally inviting evil into our lives.

However, I think that dressing up in those costumes could be seen as a way of ritualizing or "containing" the evil that absolutely exists in the world. I mean, just because we don't dress as the devil or a serial killer doesn't mean that those things don't exist. Even young children have the intuition that evil exists in the world. Maybe they would use a word like "bad guys," but it is their way of acknowledging evil. And we all know we are going to die someday, even if we do so very peacefully and naturally. So all the skeletons and skulls we see at Halloween are what religious people used to call a "memento mori"--a reminder of our own, inevitable death. I see this aspect of Halloween as a way of ritualizing the fears we all have about death, and whatever might lead to it. Maybe I don't know how to express myself very well--but I think there is a deep psychological need to acknowledge this stuff. Doing so once a year, in a fun, creative, ritual way, helps us cope with it.

When my older son was a pre-schooler, he loved a TV show called The Power Rangers. The leader of the Power Rangers was the Red Ranger, a clean-cut young man who never failed to act heroically. Then the writers did something interesting. They brought on a new ranger, the Green Ranger (who later evolved into the White Ranger). The Green Ranger was a conflicted character, who had both good and bad traits and was conflicted within himself. Suddenly, all the little kids, my son included, were wild about the Green Ranger. I watched this development with interest, because these young fans were far too young to articulate what was grabbing them about the Green Ranger. But I could see that they were responding to the more human aspect of this character. He wasn't 100% heroic, though he wanted to be. These little kids understood, without being able to say why, that good and bad existed within them, and that only a mixed character could really speak to them.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that children do have an intuition, even at a very young age, that evil exists, not only in the world around them, but also inside them. There isn't any use in trying to shield them from it. They are smarter than we think.
Last edited by Murfreesboro on Wed Mar 28, 2012 6:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Please, Don't Scare The Kids

Post by Pumpkin56 » Wed Mar 28, 2012 6:11 am

Murfreesboro wrote:There is certainly a scary, devilish side to Halloween. I guess those who object to it strenuously think that we are celebrating evil by, say, dressing up as a devil or a serial killer, etc. Maybe they even have the same feeling that you do about seances, Mike--that if we dress up as something evil, we could be unintentionally inviting evil into our lives.

However, I think that dressing up in those costumes could be seen as a way of ritualizing or "containing" the evil that absolutely exists in the world. I mean, just because we don't dress as the devil or a serial killer doesn't mean that those things don't exist. Even young children have the intuition that evil exists in the world. Maybe they would use a word like "bad guys," but it is their way of acknowledging evil. And we all know we are going to die someday, even if we do so very peacefully and naturally. So all the skeletons and skulls we see at Halloween are what religious people used to call a "memento mori"--a reminder of our own, inevitable death. I see this aspect of Halloween as a way of ritualizing the fears we all have about death, and whatever might lead to it. Maybe I don't know how to express myself very well--but I think there is a deep psychological need to acknowledge this stuff. Doing so once a year, in a fun, creative, ritual way, helps us cope with it.
I saw this thing a while back on Halloween where this guy who had written a book on the subject described that day as the one day of the year where we can be whatever it is that has been clawing to get out, whether it's our inner child or inner demon or whatever. I think that sums it up nicely. We can't be all puppies and kittens everyday, ya know 8)

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Re: Please, Don't Scare The Kids

Post by Murfreesboro » Wed Mar 28, 2012 6:16 am

Pumpkin56 wrote: We can't be all puppies and kittens everyday, ya know 8)
Amen!

Halloween has something in common with the medieval Feast of Fools, which I think happened around Twelfth Night (Jan 6). On that night, the lower-status people in the court, like the jester, became upper-status. The jester was essentially king for the day. The social order was topsy-turvy, just for one day a year. Most people who write about that tradition speak of it as a sort of safety valve, that it was a way of letting off steam that might otherwise have erupted in a far more damaging way to the social order.
Last edited by Murfreesboro on Wed Mar 28, 2012 6:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

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