In my brief research of Halloween, I discovered that some historians believe it can be traced back into ancient, Celtic speaking countries and was later Christianized, possibly as the Church’s way of appeasing the pagan audience it was set on converting. Other historians say it originated as a Christian holiday. Halloween has been connected with everything from Pomona, the goddess of fruits and seeds, to Parentalia, a festival of the dead, to the Celtic festival of Samhain, which comes from the Old Irish for summer’s end. From the personal standpoint of a child, I only saw it as an opportunity to disguise myself and hit up the neighborhood for a boatload of free candy.
I have to confess that, as one involved in a career that encourages people to drop the costume of self-image, learn to master our terrorizing thoughts, and let go of the attitude of, give me what I want or else you may not like what I do to you, I find very little of spiritual value in this holiday. I don’t need to light candles to remember or honor departed souls. The thought of worshipping relics of saints (like a shriveled, mummified hand) grosses me out. I don’t normally celebrate summer’s end. I’m not fond of horror films. And the lack of willpower to refrain from eating an entire bag of peanut butter kisses only showcases my human frailty. If there is a Halloween version of scrooge, I guess that would be me.
Yes, families do get together and celebrate on Halloween. It’s our annual chance to share a friendly meal with Frankenstein, the Werewolf and the Mummy. But many families already bear a strong resemblance to the Munsters, so I’m not sure there’s a net benefit here.
Perhaps Halloween could be construed as a formal way of confronting our deepest fears. Learn to have fun with the thing you fear most, and you may realize there is nothing to fear. Isn’t this a technique for confronting fear? Come up with the worst-case scenario, that monster lurking in the shadows of your mind, and then you work with it until you bring it into the light and no longer fear it.
So, in whatever way you choose to celebrate Halloween, have fun and be safe.