Sunday, October 31, 2010

To Trick or Treat ... or Not?

Well, folks, ready or not, it’s Halloween! For some of us, the day tops “Start Christmas Shopping” lists, which makes money managers frown … unless their jobs include balancing the budgets of department and discount stores.

One thing these big thinkers agree on is that all this partying took place in the late fall. No big surprise there, since that’s when harvesting happened, even in the good old days.

While Hanna Montana wigs and Buzz Lightyear domes are relatively recent additions to the costumes we’ll see tonight, but there’s nothing new about this “tricking and treating” stuff.
Some historians insist that the holiday’s roots are so long that they reach back to the time of the Celts, who, more than 2,000 years ago celebrated the pagan festival “Samhain” (“sow-in”) that included the offering of sacrifices to ensure healthy crops in the coming year.
Other researchers claim it’s a Roman “harvest festival” thing called “The Pomona,” which quickly gave way to the more popular “Feralia” … another carnival of sorts involved lots of sacrificing and (gasp) death.


Then, in A.D. 600, a guy in a pointy hat (Pope Boniface IV, to be specific) decided that all Christians must remember all martyrs, and picked a random date that more or less correlated with the revelry. Pope Gregory III agreed and, not to be outdone, put his official ruling into place by establishing an official date and title. And what better way to honor those saints than by jump-starting the prayers on the hallowed eve of All Saints Day!

But, with all that livestock slaughtering and toga bleaching to do in preparation, it must have seemed like an incredible waste of time saying “all hallow’s evening.” And so, the human race, with its perpetual need to abbreviate, can be credited with the name that stuck: Halloween.

Another trait of human beings is ... we can't seem to leave well enough alone. Perhaps this is why, a couple of centuries later, yet another pope (whose name escapes me) drafted yet another ruling that encouraged folks to remember everybody who called Paradise home: November 2 was then known as "All Souls Day."

But never fear, ye Christians, we are not alone in our desire to remember, honor, and even celebrate the dead:

Mexico and Brazil both observe El Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). It’s called Dia de los Natitas (Day of the Skulls) in Brazil, but, potato-potahto …. And let’s not forget the much-touted Ghost Festival, celebrated all across Asia. Nepal calls their “day” Gia Jatra, and it’s Araw ng mga Patay in the Philippines.

It wasn’t really as weird and maudlin as the names make it sound. The common thread in it all is man’s need to acknowledge and seek forgiveness of his sins. Giving up things of value (ala animal sacrifice), it was hoped, would prove to God that feeble humans—despite the deeds that told Him otherwise—had a genuine desire to do better in the coming year, and, garbed in “o woe is me” outfits, they proved it by making painful sacrifices.

Thankfully, we’re no longer required to sacrifice our cows and lambs to atone for our sins. Yet I know a lot of devout believers (of many faiths!) who refuse to partake in “wicked Halloween rituals.” But is this holiday really so “evil”?

I contend that it isn’t …provided--as we don our clown noses and pirate sashes—we remember our ancestors’ original (if not naïve) intentions, and the ultimate sacrifice our Lord and Savior made that day on the cross.

What say you, friends!


Kameko said...

It is wonderful of you, Sandie and Christa to offer this amazing book in a drawing. And to through in a copy of your latest novels - that's just marvelous!

There are so many enriching and life changing scripture verses in the Bible that it is hard to choose just one. It seems my favorite will change depending on what is going on my life at the time. Right now, this verse is one that speaks to me as my family is going through some rough emotional times. It helps to keep me grounded.

"The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in Him."
~ Nahum 1:7

Kameko said...

I thoroughly enjoyed your posting on the roots of Halloween. Some I had heard before, some I had not. But the important thing you summed up in the end - that we do remember the ultimate sacrifice our Lord and Savior made!

Blessings to you!

Anonymous said...

I never realized how the depths of our words can affect the lives of others until I read "Love Finds You in Paradise, Pa" and I had that amazing "Ah Ha! Moment we hear so much about! It may be the wrong place to post this, but I wanted to thank you for ever word you write, and every moment you give to God being His obedient servant so that others lives can be touched. I never read romance of any kind, feeling too old to be loved again. I read your book only because of the wolves...I dearly connect to the wolves and was excited to know we have a wolf sanctuary nearby. To my surprise I was challenged in my walk to become more Christ-like (Could I ever forgive to that degree?) and to reasses my fortress I had built around my heart blocking anyone who might try to invade its perimeters. I understood with a new awareness the need to daily ask for forgiveness and get right in God's eyes to become the child of God He wanted me to be...outside of my fleshly perimeters and walking in the spirit. Thank you for touching lives and sharing the messages He gives you with others. I know the time and effort it takes to write a book is so much more than anyone realizes, and I appreciate your inspiration and ministry far more than my simple words can convey. Sincerely, Cheri Horgan