“Hallowed” be thy name
If you grew up Christian, Halloween was probably the one major holiday you were banned from participating in.
My family actually did celebrate (surprisingly, as I’m a pastor’s kid), but we were always careful to take the “evil” out of it. We held church costume parties where kids were treated to a ton of candy, but no witches, ghosts, skeletons, or devil prongs were ever in sight. Most of us are okay with this idea; others simply don’t celebrate at all. To them, October 31 is simply the last day of the year before the radio and department stores begin playing two months of looped Christmas music.
But what if we have Halloween all wrong? What if I told you that Halloween is literally a Christian holiday? This calls for a quick history of Halloween.
The Christian holiday All Saints’ Day celebrates dead saints and martyrs. The day before that is called All Hallows’ Eve, or Halloween, which literally means “the holy day before.” Think about it: “hallowed” means “holy.” This holiday originally took place in May, but in an attempt to convert the pagan citizens by changing their holidays, the Catholic Church moved some things around. Sabbath became Sunday, Christmas took over winter solstice practices, Easter seized the focus of spring fertility celebrations, and All Saints’ Day replaced Samhain, a Gaelic festival of fear.
Observers of Samhain believed that with the coming of fall, shorter days signified demons entering the world. To escape the demons, people “tricked” them by disguising themselves as spirits. Under Pope Gregory III, this practice morphed into wearing a costume of one’s favorite saint.
Today Halloween is celebrated much differently. Instead of dressing up to hide from evil spirits or pay homage to saints, we get our children to dress like Pooh, Batman and Elsa from “Frozen.” Kindly homeowners offer candy for a chance to see their cute outfits. And it is adorable.
Computing major Titus Miller said, “I think there are some aspects of Halloween that are dangerous and pagan, just like with Christmas and Easter, but I personally don’t think that gives any grounds to throw out the holiday in its entirety. What about the fun aspects, like pumpkin carving and eating candy? By throwing out the whole holiday you are throwing out the good along with the bad.”
Critics of Halloween will point out that this holiday tends to glorify horrific and gory things, taking its association with the devil too far. Amanda Rogers, an elementary education major, said, “A lot of the focus is still on satanic traditions, games and being scared. Because of that, I don’t really think that celebrating Halloween would be the best use of my time.”
With that comes my opinion of Halloween. It is the same perspective I have on reading the Harry Potter books, watching supernatural horror films, and aspiring to one day learn the ways of the Force: I love all of these things. But I also understand that if you know these things will lead you down a dark path, a path where you will be tempted to participate in a séance or watch “My Little Pony,” then by all means avoid them. However, we ask you not assume those who don’t join you in this abstaining have fallen from their Christian walk.
Jordan is a senior studying psychology.