Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I do not celebrate Halloween.

I love chocolate. Sometimes my craving for it is enough to make me willing to crawl on my knees up Mount Everest...without oxygen! Okay, perhaps that is an exaggeration, but it is enough for me to concentrate more on home many miniature candy bars I might be able to abscond with from the communal bowl sitting in the middle of the table during a work meeting that the information being shared at the same. For example, if I were to volunteer to help clean up, I could "help" myself to a few more pieces. However, evening knowing my failing with regard to sweets, I do not celebrate Halloween--a prime opportunity for collecting copious amounts of chocolate.

As a Christian, I find it strange to be so alone in the belief that Christians have should have no part in this day. What is good and right and true about a day that was devoted to spirits? What is godly about witches and goblins and vampires? How healthy is it to make light of evil, to minimize the impact of this arm of Satan?

All those cute costumes and adorable I saying they are evil? Not at all. I am just saying that the holiday ought to be an anathema to Christians.

Easter, an arbitrary date, for Christians is a celebration of the most precious gift in this world: the willing self-sacrifice of Christ, His death bringing us eternal life. Christmas, essentially appropriated from the Roman holiday of Saturnalia and also an arbitrary time selected for less than godly reasons, is time when we celebrate the birth of Christ, the arrival of of that gift.

Yet both of these holidays have become so commercialized, achieving world-wide recognition for all the wrong reasons. The idea of presents at Christmas has become a bastardization of what the wise men did in laying down their gift. A time of reflection on Christ's sacrifice has become a time of bunnies and more chocolate.

This makes my heart weep.

Halloween is pranks and laughter and pretend. What is the harm in that? Halloween is also death and darkness and false gods. Why align yourself with that, despite all the pretty trappings around it?

Euphemisms are inherently dangerous in the distance they offer from reality. Over and over history has show man use them to accomplish terrible means. Slavery and the holocaust are but a small part of that.

Halloween is a euphemism Christians should flee.

The following history of this day is excerpted from The History Channel website:

Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in).
The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.

During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.

The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of "bobbing" for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls', were called Hallowmas.

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