The War on Halloween

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It has long been the position of this blog that Halloween gets a bad rap, especially from the Christian Right. The holiday’s association with deviltry, witchcraft, and the occult is, of course, difficult to deny, but the holiday’s name is an abbreviation of “All Hallow’s Eve”; that is, the evening before All Saints’ Day on 1 November.

Granted, the Internet atheists will claim the roots of Halloween in Samhain, the Gaelic festival of the harvest. They are not wrong, per se—the influx of Irish immigrants into the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries brought a peculiarly Celtic flavor to the holiday. But the holiday is a Christian, specifically a Catholic, one—the Irishmen bringing tales of Jack O’Lantern and his carved turnip (it would only later become a pumpkin) were not ancient pagans, but among the most devout believers in Europe.

Certainly the medieval Catholic Church had a habit of taking pagan holidays and replacing them with Christian observances. For some reason, Internet atheists always use these replacements as examples of Christianity’s secretly pagan roots. The argument is ludicrous.

When Hernan Cortez destroyed the Aztec temple at Tenochtitlan and built a cathedral in its place, was he honoring the bloodthirsty Aztec gods? Or was he symbolically noting that The Holy Trinity had displaced the false gods and idols of the Aztecs? It is almost certainly the latter. Similarly, when Christians took existing pagan observances and replaced them with Christian ones, they were symbolically and practically demonstrating the victory of Christ and His Church over pagan gods.

Indeed, much of the American Protestant objection to Halloween must have been due to its associations with the Papists, rather than the Devil. The mischievousness of the holiday in the twentieth century, especially the concept of trick-or-treating, probably has more to do with its more sinister modern associations.

But the latest assault on Halloween is coming from a different quarter.  No longer are conservative Christians alone in hedging their bets on the holiday.

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9 thoughts on “The War on Halloween

  1. I hope you’ll forgive me for circumventing the system – you know I’m too cheap to subscribestar. But you love me anyway. LOL!

    It’s not the “Christian Right” that has a problem with Halloween – I’ve been one my whole life, lol. There’s a faction of the Fundamentalist Evangelicals that have a problem with Halloween and anything that ‘goes bump in the night’. This was made abundantly clear to me just a few months ago.

    There’s a YT channel that I subscribe to called “Keeping it Dutch”. Dutch is a late-30s dad of three girls and he and his wife are going ‘off grid’. They belong to, and are active in, a local church there in Oklahoma and they are just a very nice young family. Dutch reminds me very much of my son and so I get that extra enjoyment from watching his videos. Anyway, they bought 40 acres in the deep boonies and are building but to get started, Dutch built a small cabin, I guess you could call it, to work out of while they were prepping for the big build of the homestead. He has lighting and electric through generators. He was remarking, in one video, about needing the light and when he went outside to get something from his truck, it was pitch black outside and he had to use his cell phone light to find his way to the truck.

    When he edited the video later, he put a comical two second cartoon of The Walking Dead in where we see how dark it was outside. Cute cartoon – I’d let any child see it.

    Well! One of his long time followers got all upset that he would do such a thing and that she was going to drop her subscription to the channel. That just irked me. So I had to leave a comment. I said that her comment was one of the exact things that folks have against Christians – first of all, who is anyone to question someone else’s Christianity? That he was living a clean life and was committed to his family and his faith and if she had a problem with that little cartoon, I suspected she needed to work on the log in her own eye before she worried about the mote in his. She didn’t respond but Dutch ‘hearted’ my comment.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Halloween was always just a bit of fun before the real event when I was growing up which was Bonfire Night on November 5th which was, and still is of course, my birthday. We bobbed apples in a bucket of water or tried to get a bite out of apples hung up on strings – no hands allowed in either event of course. Lanterns were made from swedes back then. The supernatural element of Halloween was not really alluded to, we were just having fun in the way us working class Boomers knew how – inexpensively. Bonfire Night a few days later was much more exciting with fireworks and children banding together to build the biggest bonfire, there were rival gangs within neighbourhoods who were not beyond stealing the best timber from another gang’s piles or even in extremis setting light to it. We ate burnt potatoes roasted in the embers of the fire and half cooked sausages but we loved every sooty mouthful. Nowadays nearly all events on Bonfire Night are strictly controlled according to Health and Safety diktats but of course, sadly, most of the innocent fun has been sucked out.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. And now Words From The Pagan In Quasi-Residence:

    Halloween, as it has been generally celebrated for centuries IS largely Christian or something celebrated in that manner by Christians. Yes, even Jack Of The Lantern dates only back to Christianized Ireland. Our host has the right of it.

    Samhain is a far different holy day. And yes, I say holy day instead of the contraction, holiday. It is half harvest festival – with the focus on that Winter is coming – and half a time when we remember our dead. It’s part defiant joy and part a somber reflection on our mortality.

    Even the costumes are based upon hiding from the spirits and the Aes Sidhe, who can more easily access our world on the equinoxes. As odd as it may sound, they dressed like our equivalent of demons to save their lives and souls.

    Oh, and yes, some of mine are waging a war against Halloween too, right alongside those of the Christian Right who are doing so.

    But…

    Our host has his dates wrong. Christians started “stealing” our holy days’ dates way back when Constantine created “Christianity.”

    Liked by 1 person

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