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What is the Deal?
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November 3, 2002
What is the deal with Halloween?
By Jan A. Larson
In the days leading up to and including Halloween, we once again heard complaints from various groups and individuals about this “holiday.” Some object to it on religious grounds. Others denounce it as a negative influence on young people.
Halloween, of course, has evolved from the ancient (2000 years ago) Celtic festival of Samhain that was celebrated on October 31. The Samhain festival celebrated the completion of the harvest and the beginning of winter. At this time, it was believed that the spirits of the dead returned to Earth and their presence made it easier for the priests of the time, known as Druids, to make predictions of the future.
Many years later, under the influence of Christianity, November 1 became known as “All Saints Day.” This was a day to honor saints and martyrs. This day was also known as “All-hallows” and the festival the previous night was known as “All-hallows eve,” eventually Halloween.
The notion that the “celebration” of Halloween came from a non-Christian or pagan celebration is disturbing to many Christians, among others. The “celebration” of death and general ghoulishness is seen as damaging to young minds and the politically correct crowd sees the concept of sanctioned extortion of treats from citizens as potentially harmful in that it may lead young people down the road to crime. Some have suggested that the act of dressing in the costume of an ax murderer or movie villain may lead a young person to grow up to be an ax murderer or real life villain.
The sight of the excited faces of young children out with their friends, dressed up in their costumes waiting for their treat is priceless. Are these children thinking of death, evil, ax murdering or pagan religious celebrations? Heck no, they are simply living out a harmless fantasy as a ghost, ballerina, witch or soldier with their friends and looking forward to getting the candy that they can’t have the rest of the year.
Halloween is one of my favorite childhood memories. I never thought of death, evil or an ax. None of my friends did either. It was about having fun and getting treats. Lots of treats.
Halloween is not the same now as it was when I went trick-or-treating. It is simply not advisable to let children go alone into unfamiliar neighborhoods or let them eat anything before it is inspected. However after taking a few simple precautions and using some sound judgment with respect to where and when children go trick-or-treating, there is absolutely no reason why Halloween cannot maintain the innocent appeal of days gone by. The hand wringing, overly sensitive adults simply need to work out their fears and phobias while they let their children have some good, clean fun.
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