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My life is a crazy, unpredictable, jumbled mess of fun. Each day creating adventures and stories that will last a lifetime 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Samhain and the day of the dead

Do you know what you celebrate? Do you know what you believe?

Halloween, All hallows eve or Samhain (a druid holiday for summer end) all have murky connections and observances.

All Hallows Eve is where very superstitious people believed that the dead could return to earth. To appease their loved ones in remembrance they would leave treats on their doorsteps.
They also would dress up in costume to "trick" the evil spirits into thinking they were on of them - a major reason that Halloween costumes are so gruesome.
I mean why else really do you want to dress your child up like Jason, or Freddy?
Doesn't he just look so sweet? Mama's little serial killer.

All Hallows Eve was supposed to be the day before All Saints Day a sanctified day in which one would remember and thank the unnamed Saints. Over years and years of mixing religion and superstition this became known by many as the day of the dead. (Not the official day of the dead, but many have moved it to suit the holidays) In which some people would honor their ancestors and visit graveyards with treats. food and costumes. Mostly everyone seems to have forgotten All Saints Day and the fact that they were suppose to come back to God after celebrating a pagan holiday.

Samhain is much more complicated and much harder to find the truth on. All the web sites carefully select their words and phrases, things like The old Celtics would make large bone fires and have sacrifices.
Hmmm.... researching the old druids you find out that they used to do human sacrifices to their gods and several high religious days of the year. 
After Catholicism went into the druid areas of what is now Scotland they switched to animal sacrifices. They would then walk through the large burning fires smoke to purify themselves against evil.
Samhain is also called The Witches New Year.

Now this is what I found trolling through hundreds of pages on the internet over the last two weeks - many sites contradict each other, many try to down play past events and histories.

I would suggest that you do your own research on the matter if you don't like mine or my interpretation of what I found.

Just beware of the easy searches things like "History of-" Those are the links that try to down play the origins, instead try searches like "How to celebrate-" or just the name its self.

Now many people have asked me why I don't celebrate Halloween or allow my children to (I didn't as a kid and I never felt I was missing out on anything). Now, besides the fact that I don't believe in any of the above reasons to celebrate, I also have issues with Trick or Treating.

One - as stated above I don't find dressing your child up as a demon, witch or murder to be cute.
Two - I don't think its fine to teach your children not to take candy from a stranger or to talk to strangers and then one day a year tell them its ok.

So for all friends and family that think I am silly or mean for not celebrating this strange day filled with superstition and myth, I have answered you.
Now, in turn you can answer me. WHY do you think its a good day to teach your children to celebrate?


Dawn Marie said...

I'm with you, when we have kids there will be no trick or treating. We will celebrate like we did as kids. But you already knew that.
On another subject, I got an ice cream maker and I will be trying some non-dairy frozen desserts. I hope they go over well.

Robert said...

My feelings on the subject are "A holiday is what you make it." There's probably no better example than Christmas. Originally, the celebrations that occurred on or around that day were pagan, such as Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, or the Yule celebration honoring Mithras, the Sun god. The church in Rome chose to celebrate Christ's birth at the winter solstice, partly for the symbolism but also to displace the pagan celebrations with a Christian one.

A number of modern Christmas traditions have their origins in paganism. The Christmas tree itself is a Christian adaption of the pagan tradition of bringing evergreen boughs indoors at the solstice. Burning candles and logs were part of the Yule celebration. The word Yule itself, now associated with Christmas, in fact means "wheel," a pagan symbol of the sun. The use of holly and mistletoe also originated in pagan tradition.

So is it a Christian holiday or a pagan one? That's up to you. If you make Christ the center of Christmas, then you've made it a Christian holiday. There are a number of people who profess to be Christian for whom Christmas might as well be pagan, as Christ has no part in their observation of the holiday.

My feelings on Halloween are the same: it is what you make it. You won't see my kids dressed as devils, witches, axe murderers, etc. And I don't think that Halloween suddenly makes it okay for kids to take candy from strangers. I don't feel the need to completely shun the holiday, but anything which glorifies wickedness isn't going to be part of it as far as my family's concerned.

A side note: I've noticed that there are a number of churches that have shied away from the name "Halloween" and instead call their parties "Harvest Festivals." This seems a bit odd, considering that "Halloween" is actually the more Christian-oriented name, derived from "All Hallows Eve'n."

Blessed Rain said...

Not really Christian - Catholic yes Christian no.
No matter what spin someone puts on this day it doesn't make it religious or even common sense to celebrate it.

Glad that you are a more concerned parent but really I could celebrate satanic holidays for the same reasoning - doesn't mean I should.

Robert said...

No criticism at all for your position. You should be commended for being a parent that actually cares about it. Our positions differ a little, and others may differ a lot, but I think the main thing is that people should wake up and look at what it is they're really celebrating.

(And yeah, I agree that "All Hallows Eve'n" is more of a Catholic thing than an general Christian thing.)

TJ said...

I don't like this holiday either. Good post.

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