Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Halloween is NOT a Religious Holiday

Halloween is probably my favorite holiday. Each year as it approaches, I find myself getting more excited, happy and more creative as Halloween crafts and costume ideas come to mind.

I also find myself getting more annoyed by people who don't understand the holiday. The topic has come up several times on different mom forums where I am a member. Over and over again I read...

"We don't celebrate Halloween because it's against our religious beliefs." or
"We don't want to scare our children by celebrating this horrible holiday."

In complete and utter honesty, every time I read one of these statements, I have to remove myself from the computer. Close it, get up, walk around, take deep breaths, and talk myself out of getting back on the computer and opening up a can of whoop ass on these ignorant people. If you are one of these people who makes the statements above, please read further- you'll learn something today. For everyone else- you'll love how I'm about to handle this.

Let's start with a simple Halloween history lesson. You can Wikipedia this info, too, go ahead. It's all legit (no matter how much some people would love to call me a liar). The word 'Halloween' is Christian in origin. It comes from the shortened 'All Hallows-Even', which comes from the celebration of All Saints Day (also known as Hallomas, Hallotide, and All Hallows) on November 1st and 2nd, which celebrated saints and remembered people who had recently passed on but had yet to reach Heaven.

So if you are of the Christian religion, and say that Halloween is against your religion, I won't say you are wrong, but, well, you're wrong. But if you are hell bent on NOT celebrating Halloween, then keep reading. I'll give you a loophole in the coming paragraphs.

Now, many people think that Halloween is purely an accepted form of the holiday of Samhain, celebrated by earth-centered religions. While yes, Samhain does fall at this time of year, not everything we do on
Halloween is linked back to this ritualistic holiday. Carving pumpkins into jack o'lanterns is considered a Samhain tradition, only they used turnips hundreds of years ago. They carved turnips into lanterns as a way to remember souls held in purgatory. Using pumpkins for carving is a North American tradition that dates back to the mid-to-late 19th century. So, unless you are carving turnips, you are not necessarily celebrating an earth-centered religion.

The practice of dressing up in costumes and going door-to-door trick-or-treating isn't religion-based either, sorry. It dates back to medieval times to souling, where the poor would dress up and go door-to-door on Hallowmas (November 1st) and beg for food in exchange for praying for the souls of loved ones who have  died. It originated in Ireland and Britain early enough for William Shakespeare to reference it in 1593 in The Two Gentleman of Verona,  is recorded to have occurred in Scotland in the late 1800s, and was finally recorded in the early 1900s in America.

Imagery such as monsters, witches, vampires, etc, that have been associated with Halloween have no basis in any religion, either. They all came from various literary works and movies over the years.

Yes, it is believed that the door between our world and the spirit world is opened on Halloween, but it used to be revered as a day to allow loved ones who have passed to join you for a feast. Again, no religion involved, that was a cultural belief and practice.

So what is it exactly that causes such an uproar about Halloween, and makes it offensive?

One mom on one of the forum sites I visit wrote, "Halloween is disrespectful to those whose religion is not comfortable with witches or ghosts."

Okay, let's just take a step back for a second. While Samhain is an earth-centered religion at this time of year, unless you are carving turnips, celebrating all you have harvested in the year or throwing resolutions into a bonfire (Samhain is also known as "The Witch's New Year"), then you aren't celebrating Samhain, therefore, not dealing with witches.

And, for the record, Witches DO NOT equal bad. I understand there is a common misconception that witches are Satanists and worship the devil, but true witches do not even acknowledge a devil. People who are members of the religion of Satanism generally call themselves Satanists, not witches. True followers of witchcraft believe in harming no one in what they do. Those people you see hugging trees, going on about the amazing meditation they did, how great their yoga session was and drinking herbal tea for their headaches- those people are more likely to be witches than those goth kids walking around saying, 'Satan is king.' So forget what you think you know about witches until you research them yourselves, please.

So, okay, we've covered witches. Now ghosts. This one confuses the hell out of me. Most of the people saying they don't celebrate Halloween because it's against their religion are Christians. This is common knowledge. Don't Christians believe in a Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. What's that last part? Holy Spirit? Isn't that a ghost? Or (and please excuse me with this next comparison), didn't Jesus rise from the dead? It was either his ghost that rose, or he actually rose, which, by definition would insinuate he's a zombie, right? I don't mean to be disrespectful with that last statement, but seriously, how can one argue that they don't believe in ghosts when they worship a Holy Spirit and their deity rose from the dead?

Have we forgotten already that Halloween has roots based on a Christian  holiday? So how would Halloween be disrespectful to the Christian religion?

Another mom so eloquently stated, "If we are no longer allowed to celebrate Christmas in schools, then we shouldn't be allowed to celebrate Halloween, either."

Huh? How does that even make sense? Halloween, by definition and practice, is NOT a religious holiday (while it's name is derived from a religious holiday, and some of its practices are based on religious holidays, it is not deemed a religious holiday). Christmas IS. Good grief, people, come on.

I'm going to go ahead and point out the biggest contradiction to any reason someone could try and give for not celebrating Halloween because of religious beliefs. Halloween, as we know it today in the US and many other countries, is a commercial holiday. It's about people dressing up (costume companies profit), handing out candy (candy companies profit), having parties (food, decoration and entertainment companies profit) and simply having fun. Unless you are remembering those loved ones who passed, carving turnips in the name of souls stuck in purgatory, or giving thanks for the harvest that you just completed in preparation for getting ready for winter, you aren't celebrating Halloween as it was known hundreds of years ago. The "religion" of Halloween has been completely lost.

So, for those that want to hold firm on NOT celebrating Halloween, here's your loophole. Drop the whole "it's against my religion" thing, because it isn't. Remembering loved ones who have died is not against your religion, I don't care what you believe. Claim that you refuse to perpetuate the commercialization of America by celebrating a holiday that only makes the candy, costume and decoration companies richer. But, be aware. If you do that, you technically can't celebrate Christmas, either. Or, at least the giving gifts other than frankincense, myrrh and gold, and definitely no Santa. That's just commercialization at its worse, right there. It's a double edged sword, I know.

And for those that don't celebrate Halloween because it will scare their children- the news is a hell of a lot scarier nowadays than dressing your kid up as a zombie and letting them get free candy. Just wait until the Zombie Apocalypse occurs in real life. Who is going to be more prepared? My kids who watch zombie movies and know what they look like, act like, and how to kill them, or your kid who has never seen a zombie before because you shielded them from 'scary' things? Hmmm....

So, for crying out loud, give Halloween parties back to kids in school. I hate that my kids have Fall Festivals or Harvest Festivals instead of Halloween parties. It's absolutely ridiculous. People are so sensitive nowadays- we can't celebrate Halloween, we can't celebrate Christmas... blah blah blah. Halloween is NOT a religious holiday, so get off of it.

I don't mean for this post to badger a certain set of religious beliefs, but no matter what mom site I head to, it's the same thing coming from the same type of people. This post is meant to educate. I do apologize if this post offends anyone- that surely isn't my intention. Generally speaking, I keep topics such as religion, politics and the government off of my blog because they touch people the wrong way. But this post is about Halloween- its origins and practices, of which some religious talk needs to happen to fully explain everything.

And yes, I do get asked a lot about my religion. I keep it elusive on my blog, because it's personal to me. I will say that I don't have a problem with any religion, or believe any religion is wrong in their set of beliefs. Unless of course, you are strapping a bomb to your chest and trying to blow up me or my kids because your god told you to do so. Then, we have a huge problem. Short of that, I believe that what every person believes is right for them, and as long as they are harming no one with their beliefs, all is just fine.

I love a good debate, so if there are respectful comments to make, please, do so below, even if you don't agree with me. If the comment is nothing but calling me names or telling me I'm a soulless person going straight to hell, please use my email for those. It's found in the 'Contact and Disclosure' tab above.

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  1. Oh my, LOL. This post reminds me of yesterday and I love it. We went to the Autumn fest parade in our area. In the parade there were school bands, cheerleaders and flaggers from all nearby cities. Then there were different social groups such as Red Hat Ladies and Shriners and so on. Then there was Miss RI and Mass and different community groups, boy scouts, girl scout, dance studios and whatever..... I know you're getting bored, here comes the awesome part... I love my boy. We're standing on the side walk, there's a ton of kids laughing, waving and playing. Oh so happy, then here comes our local halloween store and their little group in the parade. Now you got a Freddy, Jason, some creepy ass clown, some guy in a black out suit in skin tones looking like he's been ripped to shreds and carrying a 2 x 4 covered in "blood" and a couple more creeps. All the other kids stop, faces drop and they take a step back. My boy, age 5, still at the curb, jumping and waving and runs up to one of the creepy guys for a high five screaming you look so real man. How freaking funny! Granted this mean if the Zombie Apocalypse comes soon I'm going to have to keep him close so he doesn't try to befriend a real brain eating monster but for now I just think he's awesome :)

    1. I love it! My kids have always been the-more-creepy-the-better kids at Halloween. My daughter was a zombie prom queen last year. I had so much fun with her makeup.
      I'm sure y'all will be fine when the Zombie Apocalypse hits. =)

  2. Personally, I'm not a fan of the "realistic" gore costumes, but it's not for religious reasons- I live with PTSD and certain images are triggering. Unfortunately that's the reality for many PTSD sufferers- but even then, I do not believe in "banning" those types of costumes, because it's not your or your kids' responsibility to avoid my triggers- it's mine.

    I would argue for age-appropriateness in public spaces like schools, because not all kids are developmentally ready to deal with that kind of thing at the elementary levels, but other than that, have at it.

    As for the rest, mostly agree. I never thought Halloween was disrespectful to my religion, if anything Christmas is the one I have contentions with. Some of the traditions harken back to older faiths which are in direct contradiction to my beliefs... but you know that. lol

    Good grief what ever happened to letting kids be kids? Celebrating imagination? Encouraging creativity? IMHO, that's what Halloween is about. The uproar over it says more about those making noise than it does about the holiday.