There, I said it. I said, "Happy Halloween!" not "Happy Harvest Day" or "Happy Reformation Day" or "Happy Non-Offensive Autumn Day" as some may prefer. Actually, I now live in a part of our state where saying Happy Halloween is okay. It was not always so when I lived in East Texas. Many there would say Happy Halloween and perhaps decorate their homes with appropriate holiday symbols but for some that tradition was totally verboten. There is a religious strain in that part of the world that connects and connotes Halloween with something sinister or even evil. Some churches and their leaders have taught their followers for decades this teaching that Halloween must be avoided at all cost to keep themselves pure. That thinking filtered into the public school system to the place where teachers could not have their children color pages with ghosts or witches or black cats lest they bring on the wrath of the religious adherents of such thinking. It got to the place where it was ridiculous. Those who wishes to participate in Halloween traditions did so in an almost stealthy and secretive manner. "Pssst, there will be a Halloween Party at the Smith's house tonight. Pass it on!"
To those who would make something evil out of this holiday that strictly means that children get to dress up in costumes and eat candy, I say simply--"Poppycock!" There, I have said that stern rebuke! Halloween is no more sinister than my great grandmother's fruitcake. Yes, it may be something that some would avoid and let them do so, but do not forbid Halloween or fruitcake to those of us who wish to partake of it. Halloween has ancient origins that have something to do with the idea that once a year the spirits of those who recently departed would connect with those on earth. It was a belief that persons on earth may have their loved ones who died in the last year with them a bit longer and that one this special night they may feel their presence. Persons began dressing up in costumes to remind themselves of the departed ones and it soon evolved into just a night of merriment and for children into a night where treats were handed out as they paraded in their costumes. The trick part of "trick or treat" really came about as silly pranksters did fairly harmless practical jokes and especially if they did not get a treat they liked. Today, that same tradition exists and when I see children come to our well lit porch to receive some candy, it is fun to see what clever costumes they have.
I went through my neighborhood when I was growing up usually dressed as a hobo or a ghost because we had to use home made costumes most of the time. We would take a large grocery bag with us and I would collect enough candy before returning home to last until Thanksgiving. Few if any people ever said anything about the holiday being something evil. Some years my aunt and uncle would have a Halloween Party at their house and we would go and bob for apples or put our hands in spaghetti (to resemble a brain) or feel of grapes in a bowl (eyeballs) and we would laugh and tell spooky stories and listen to scary records. We would be home by 9 pm or so and get ready for bed and go to school the next day. It was just a time of fun for children and their parents.
There is plenty of evil in the world and we dont have to wait for Halloween to find it. You can read about it in the paper daily or hear about it on the newscast on television. It has nothing to do with dressing up in costumes or giving out candy. Evil surrounds us because of the greed and lusts of humankind as it always has been. People do evil acts out of these evil feelings and attitudes. Halloween is a sacred day, a day of fun, but also a day to remember all those who have gone ahead of us to their Eternal Reward. Tomorrow is All Saints Day when we remember these dear Saints. In our church, we will celebrate that special day next Sunday in the German festival of the Dead--Totenfest.
Happy Halloween to all, even to those who live in East Texas!