A lot of my friends back in Texas will be staying home tonight. Their children will not dress in Halloween costumes and their lights will be out by 7pm. Some of them will even go so far as going to a Judgement house.* Plenty of them will be decrying Halloween as a ‘Satanic holiday’ or a pagan ritual. There are times I despair of them.
So to clear up a few things, let’s talk about the history of Hallowe’en. For a start, it’s not Satanic. It may be Pagan, but eh. Everything starts somewhere. Most cultures developed some kind of celebratory holiday around this time every year after the autumnal equinox. Harvest was done, it was time to party. Dia de los Muertos in Mexico is the day ancestral spirits are invited into the home to thank them. All Saints Day in Italy is the same. Samhain in the Celtic religion was about thanking the dieties for the harvest. And the Roman holiday Feralia was about commemorating the passing of the dead.
Now, of course, it’s mostly about the candy. So gimme a Snickers and come in and watch Zombieland with me.
*For those of you not from the South – a Judgement house is one in which the judgement for evils of non-Christian behavior is exhibited: the perils of drink, gambling, prostitution, abortion, etc. I do not recommend them.