Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Raves, rants and reality

 


I want to RAVE about my favorite holiday, Halloween. Also known as Samhain and All Hallows’ Eve, this awesome holiday is soon approaching, to the delight of children everywhere. Kids of all ages, myself included, will be happily dressed in costumes, wearing masks or make-up and running around schools, neighborhoods and businesses acting a bit more batty (pun intended) than normal.

And why is this? Of course, children will respond with a resounding chorus of, “CANDY” but surely that can’t entirely be the reason. I’m not going to go into the huge historical background of the holiday but I’d like to share the REALITY of a few possible reasons for the season, one from the pre-Christian era and another from the Catholic faith.

Although truly accurate accountings of history can be hard to come by, it is widely accepted that approximately 2,000 years ago in the area now known as Ireland, United Kingdom and France, the Celts held the Samhain (pronounced “sah-win” or “sow-in” depending on your accent) festival around the end of Oct., first of Nov. to celebrate “summer’s end”. They may have also used this time to pay tribute to ancestors and those long passed as the changing of the seasons reflected not just the end of the harvest, but the end of all things, including life itself. Feasts, fires and celebrations were held with some wearing masks and costumes to ward off roaming ghosts and evil spirits.

During the mid eighth century, the Catholic church designated Nov. 1 as Saints’ Day, also known as All Hallows’ Day, and approximately 250 years later, Nov. 2 as All Souls’ Day to honor those who have passed from this life. Although All Saints’ Day typically honors known saints and martyrs, All Souls’ day honors those who have died, yet have not attained sainthood, the two consecutive celebrations have the common theme of remembering and honoring all those who have passed from this life. As the night before All Hallows’ Day falls on Oct. 31, it’s not a big leap to understand how the designation of Halloween came to be.

Halloween in America is quite unique as we are the melting pot of the world. Again, it most likely started as a community event to celebrate the end of harvest and as the flood of immigrants entered, along came the multitude of traditions, including of course, the Irish and English traditions of dressing in costume. During the early 1800s it became a common practice for towns and neighborhoods to have their own celebrations, focusing on games, foods of the season, sharing the feast by going house to house and of course, costumes dedicated to scaring friends and neighbors, ghost stories and witchcraft. However, by the early 1900s efforts were already being made to take the superstitions and religious beliefs out of the holiday, turning it towards a more entertaining commercial celebration.

In America today, people of all regions, races and creeds are not only lenient of their streets being over run with begging children hopped up on sugar and wearing costumes, they are supporting and encouraging the festivities.

My RANT is focused on those same people who happily hand out $100 worth of unhealthy treats to children, who actually no longer have any idea why they are dressed in costume, asking for candy and being allowed to act like little devils. Many of those adults don’t have an ounce of tolerance for their neighbors who have differing religious, race, sexual or political beliefs.

My REQUEST of you this Halloween is simple: every time you see a child in costume and when that next immediate thought in your head is, “awe, how adorable,” try to imagine what the world would be like if we had that exact same thought when we meet someone of a different race, religion, political side or sexual partner preference. Wouldn’t the world be a much sweeter place, especially without the cavities, diabetes and cancer.

 

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