Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween and it's history

I actually wrote this post on January 23 and set it to post today. Chances are good that I've forgotten about it. It was written in response to this post and this post, both claiming Halloween is an evil Pagan holiday. I encourage you to read, or at least skim, them before continuing here.

It annoys the everloving hell out of me to see time and again people claiming that Halloween is evil, that it's a night of spells and witches flying around on broomsticks and trying to do magic with black cats. It involves none of these things, and in fact, Halloween as we currently know it...was started by a Christian society in very modern times, and even today it marks a holiday dearly held by Mexican Catholics, and the original Pagan holiday was nothing like it's been made out to be.

It annoys me how those claiming this is an evil holiday clearly have never bothered to look into the history of Halloween, why it came about, nor about the real Pagan holiday that's supposedly so evil, and these same people ignore that the celebrations of Christmas and Easter were both dated to fall over other Pagan holidays in an attempt to usurp them. The decorated tree at Christmas is a direct reappropration of the Yule tree. The halo, held so sacred, is a rip-off of the sun over the head of the sun god Helios.

Anyway here is the comment I posted, though I highly doubt it will be approved (when I see this post again when it posts, I'll go check).


Christmas trees are also Pagan in roots, part of the winter celebration of Yule, which is observed on the solstice. Jesus wasn't born in winter (there are no lambs in winter in the northern hemisphere, only in late spring and early summer), yet his birth is celebrated to overlap Yule? The time and the tradition of decorating trees were both taken from Pagans. But yet you celebrate his birth in the winter with a tree, correct?

The Pagan autumn holiday is Samhain, which has nothing to do with witches and sorcery. It's simply a day celebrating the dead as animals were traditionally slaughtered for meat through the winter. It is also a day for reflection and accepting that there are things over which we have no control, such as death. There are no black cats or people flying on broomsticks. That is purely an invention only going back to the Victorian times.

Those godly Victorians were obsessed with death for a while (notice how death-lockets and rings were immensely popular and that dark, gothic architecture was on the rise?). Samhain, or Hallow's Eve, or Day of the Dead (which is widely celebrated by Mexican Catholics as a day to remember the dead) were never macabre holidays with ghosts and goblins. Thank CHRISTIAN Victorians for this idea, and it wasn't meant to be demonic among them.

Even though death isn't supposed to be seen as a bad thing (getting to go to the heavenly father and be in his arms, right?), somehow a celebration of the lives of those who have gone is seen as wrong. What kind of a message is this? That death (and subsequently going to god) is something that should be avoided?

Even Easter overlaps Ostara, which is celebrated as the beginning of spring. It is the celebration of the return of color to the world. According to history, including the bible, Jesus died in what is now called June. So why is his death celebrated in spring if not to usurp a Pagan holiday? The holiday in June, Litha, isn't celebrated among all sects, nor even most, so nothing to usurp there. The nearest holiday otherwise, Beltane, in May, is widely avoided by Christians due to its strong free-love nature. Yes, the May Pole is indeed intended to be phallic, and the streamers and dancers represent fertility. Somehow this has never stopped the great Kings and Queens of England, defenders of the faith, from celebrating spring with a May Day complete with May Pole.

If you're going to disrespect the Pagans, please do it in a way that uses facts about their holidays and correct history rather than myths. If you want to avoid any holidays connected in any way with Paganism, then you should petition for Christmas to be moved to spring (and no more decorated trees either!) and Easter to June. Otherwise there is no way around these holidays being connected with Pagan holidays. Since the connection with Paganism seems to be your biggest gripe with Halloween (while ignoring the religious aspect of the day and celebration by Mexican Catholics), I don't see how you don't find fault with Christmas and Easter.

2 comments:

  1. omg, you don't know me, but I agree with this 100%! My husband and I are very religious, and it kills me to see churches advertising "harvest festivals" (or even worse--"Holy Ghost Day") for kids' parties on Oct. 31st with pumpkins and costumes, because Halloween is so evil that they can't participate in regular trick-or-treating. Um, hello, that is not an alternative to Halloween...it IS Halloween!

    We LOVE Halloween--fun for kids and adults. I can understand some conservative people not liking the violence/graveyard-type references, but fine, go with the pumpkin-themes (we keep our decorations PG so as not to scare little kids). I'm a teacher, and every year, at least one parent says they don't "do" Halloween and opts their kid out of the party. Some are bitchy and demand no Halloween-related activities at all (sorry, not changing my entire October classroom for your one kid) and others are cool and have had that conversation with their kid about their personal beliefs, and the kid knows that others celebrate, but their family doesn't. Whatever.

    sorry to butt into your blog, but I had to comment! Have you watched History Channel's The Real Story of Halloween? Our typical Halloween was invented by Americans in the '30s--you'd think the super-patriotic would hold it up as what "real" Americans do!

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  2. Hi, Padilla, you're not butting it at all. Feel free to read and comment when you'd like. :)

    Sorry it too so long to actually reply. I've "touched down" briefly for a couple posts, otherwise been busy.

    I've thought about that, about churches celebrating festivals with costumes, candy, etc., on October 31st, and saying it's got nothing in common with Halloween. A rose by any other name, eh?

    I remember as a kid there'd always, each holiday, be one kid whose parents didn't like a holiday, so it was banned from the classroom. Except for Valentine's Day, which only teaches kids to give meaningless shows of affection combined with humiliation over being the kid with one or two (empty) envelopes in her box (yes, that was me, because I was the nerd before nerds were cool). Halloween, Christmas, you name it, it was banned my fifth grade year, and we all started calling Mr. Schmidt "Mr. Shit" behind his back because of it. Kids need to learn to coexist with people who believe and celebrate other things rather than taught to expect the world to change for them.

    LOL! The super-patriotic crack me up! Those who claim the most patriotism often known the least about the early days of this country. Ask those die-hards what the Treaty of Trilopi is the next time one of them talks on and on about how god "needs to be brought back into this country as our founding fathers had it." Ignore the real beginning, but hold tight to stockings, Santa, and presents on Christmas. Don't forget the Easter bunny!

    When you get down to it though, Christmas and Easter and Halloween and various Christian summer celebrations all happen within days of Pagan holidays, usurping the reason for celebrating in an attempt to overshadow and eliminate pre-Christian events. It really annoys me how, for being a religion of peace and tolerance, there's so little tolerance for anything else. Jesus, who I do believe was a real person, would be sad to see what's done in his name.

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