'Halloween Or Hallowed Eve?'
Highlands TodayWhy do we find being frightened so much fun, or, at least adrenalin pumping? Is that the point, to bury everyday drudgery under enough fantasy and/or horror to make the deadened feel enlivened? That feeling will not outlast the party.
Published: October 29, 2009
Published: October 29, 2009
Halloween is increasingly popular in America though it is not an official holiday. Its roots date to 5th century B.C. Celtic Ireland where Oct. 31 marked the end of summer. On this winter's eve disembodied spirits searched for living bodies, their only hope for afterlife. The people extinguished lights, dressed in ghoulish costumes, and paraded the vicinity to drive the spirits away.
Trying to Christianize the pagan, the Catholic Church declared Nov. 1 the feast of "All Saints" or "All Hallows." That made Oct. 31 the "Eve of All Saints" or "Hallow Even," shortened to "Halloween."
One famous Halloween (1517), German monk Martin Luther nailed a theological challenge on the Wittenberg church door. His "99 Theses" sparked the Protestant Reformation, which along with enlightenment loosed horrors worthy of any ghostly battle. Jesse Ventura is right; most wars have religious roots.
Real life is outdoing Halloween. There's the macabre: a volunteer cleanup crew found a voodoo pole and the mutilated remains of a goat and two chickens along the Courtney Campbell Causeway (9/19/09). There's the ghastly: a Brooksville woman awoke to find her right knee bandaged when it was her left knee needing repair, this after signing a consent form, having a doctor verify and mark the surgery site ("Surgical Mistakes Increasing," Tampa Tribune, 9/27/09).
There's the eerie: with bees dying of "recent and mysterious catastrophe," we expect bee stings on city streets and at outdoor cafes as more bees are kept on urban rooftops and in public gardens ("Paris Rooftops..." Tampa Tribune, 9/20/09).
We abhor death but dress children as devils, witches, and goblins, guard them from "danger" as they approach doors to say, "Trick or treat," and pay to peep into coffins. The squeamish dress as historical or Disney characters, while the religious don Bible persona. Whether we call it "Halloween" or "fall" festival, we look for another life.
Feigning piety, King Saul officially put witchcraft out of Israel. When he sought guidance, God "refused to answer him" (1 Samuel 28:6 Amplified). Then Saul asked the witch at Endor to bring up Samuel, the deceased, true prophet of God. Like Whoopee Goldberg in "Ghosts," this medium tried to fake it. When Samuel appeared, the witch faced God's spiritual presence. It was infinitely more bone shaking than games or devils.
Most Halloweeners think they play a harmless game. In one sense, that's true. The real Satan in charge of the real ghouls probably looks nothing like the hideous, humorous costumes or the ugly gargoyles guarding Europe's churches. So we can dress and pretend to our hearts' content.
Maybe nothing more will come of it than swallowing a razor blade or bit of poison in our trick-or-treat candy. The only thing that scares Satan is meeting someone who really knows and expects God. A Hallowed Eve outlasts Halloween.
Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If you are a seeker of simple truth, we can find it together-side-by-side.
Linda M. Downing is a freelance writer. Contact her at lindadowning.com.