Halloween is coming around and this special holiday has me thinking about the kooky, scary people you see. No, I’m not talking about the mummies and monsters roaming the streets, but the special neighbors sitting out on their porch who see this night as chance to evangelize.
Let me sketch out a typical scenario I’ve seen and you can tell me if this happens in your neighborhood too: You send your kids out in their cute little Batman or Cinderella costumes, cheerfully chanting “Trick or Treat” throughout the neighborhood like little undercover Oliver Twists begging “Can I have some more?”
They return home with their plastic pumpkin pails full to the brim with mini Snickers and Kit Kat bars. Occasionally, instead of some nugget of processed sugar that will rot their teeth, they get an apple handed out by one of the more health conscious neighbors. But along with that ripe reminder of Earth’s own abundant candy, your kids also receive two or three religious pamphlets that explain that, oh by the way, they’re all going to Hell (with a capital H) because they’re Trick-or-Treating for free candy. Does this happen to you? Apparently—at least in my neighborhood—much like, oh, murder, incest, thievery, sacrilege, and rape, celebrating Halloween is a hell worthy offense too. Why? Because these people believe it’s some widespread form of devil worship, which is laughable to say the least.
Quick History lesson: Hallowe’en, or All Hallow’s Eve, was never a Satanic holiday to begin with. Oh, it may have been usurped as such by some misguided delinquents in recent years and certainly it’s been high-jacked by horror movies as prime fodder for scaring the bejeesus out of us, but the truth of the matter is that Halloween originated with paying homage to the dead (i.e., paying respects to relatives who have passed on). Some believed the holiday was a time when the “veil between the worlds is thin,” (if you believe in that sort of thing) and therefore it is a night to pay your respects to your ancestors since the ability for you to communicate with them is at its strongest. Long story short, Halloween was meant to be a time of RESPECT.
Going back to the origins of Halloween, the Celts used the day to mark the end of the harvest season and the start of winter– though I seriously doubt it was exactly on October 31st. Roughly around that time they harvested their fields and killed animals (cattle) to fill their larders and cull their herds for the coming winter. Of course, nowadays that equates to a sacrificial frenzy that involved people bathing in blood and killing off their friends and neighbors in bizarre Satanic rituals (which is surprisingly hard to do when you don’t believe in Satan).
While I don’t know the Bible cover to cover, I don’t believe Halloween is even mentioned in any of the gospels. So the info in the pamphlets my kids have brought home is sort of suspect right off the top. Of course religious zealots (emphasis on zealots) have twisted the whole “evil” thing to their advantage since Halloween is basically a pagan idea. And as we all know Christians = good and Pagans = bad. You know, all that willy-nilly sacrificial stuff.
Sadly, just like Christmas, Halloween has been so commercialized that it barely resembles what it used to be anyway. Now, of course, it’s treated just as a time for kids to go out and “beg” for candy, and very few kids will “trick” (as in, TP a house) if they don’t get any. So it’s really just “give me candy” aka “treating.” No threat of a “trick” at all to the candy giver any more. Sad how the world has changed.
But back to the pamphlets— even those individuals who adhere to the origins of the holiday (which I can’t emphasize enough is paying respects to deceased ancestors, NOT sacrificing first-born infant sons to a winged beast of the netherworld), don’t push their beliefs on others by handing out pamphlets telling the costumed critters they’re going somewhere awful just because they’re not home lighting a candle to remember Grandma in the great beyond.
So why do other religious folk feel the need to tell young children that they’re going to go to Hell simply for dressing up as their favorite cartoon character and begging for a few Starbursts? I’ve never understood the folks who are so narrow-minded and so holier-than-thou that they would spoil an innocent kid’s holiday with religious dogma. If you don’t want to give out candy to the little mites, just don’t answer the door. Do the universal “leave me alone, I’m not giving out candy” thing: turn off your porch light and leave it at that.
Childhood is a time of innocence, at least for a short while. Let the buggers beg for candy in peace for goodness sake.
I always use proselytizing–particularly the aggressive strain of the disease–as a teaching opportunity for my family, a time to rationally explain what I believe versus what “they” believe. That is, when I’m not angrily condemning “Christers” and “Jesus Sheep” for their efforts to mess with my life and the lives of others by constantly working to shape the world to match their mythology. Your post is a public service. Thanks.
I dislike and have no respect for those who twist their faith to suit their own purpose or to condemn others. But for those who walk the “true” path of their faith and are good people, I have respect for them. So what if they choose to believe something different than me? They’re doing their best to be good, decent people and I think that’s worthy of respect. Do I want religion in politics or government or the law? No. It doesn’t belong there. Do I want religion intruding upon my life? No. It doesn’t belong there. But like with all things, there are good people and bad people and I do respect the good (I also really despise the bad 🙂 ).
Most of the christian holidays coincide with pagan celebrations, like Easter and Christmas so it was easier to convert (that’s my theory)! November the 1st is All Saints day, the day to respect the dead but I’m not sure of the connection between the two religions. Trick or treating is a mix of the two and I’m sure google can clarify and answer both! I was never allowed to celebrate Halloween as it was ‘wrong’, which is a pity as it’s not ‘wrong’ or bad like you say!
I agree with you on the holidays. There are many aspects of Christianity that are incredibly similar to Pagan religions: holidays/festivals, rituals, stories, symbols, even saints. I’m really sorry you never had a chance to trick or treat or dress up as a kid! Or more importantly get sick from too much candy! 🙂
I love Halloween. The things we do for it have changed drastically over the decades, but it’s always my favorite holiday. The once a year chance to be someone completely different from the face we show the world each day. Hugs!
I love Halloween as well! I just love everything about it. The history, the costumes, the season, the whole nine yards. Halloween and Christmas are my favorites. Go figure. Maybe I need a pamphlet. LOL Hope you have a wonderful weekend!
You as well. Happy Halloween!
Some people (i.e., religious zealots) just feel compelled to proselytize every chance they get to anyone who happens to be around, no matter how inappropriate. Good post. Enjoy Halloween,
It’s the religious zealots that I don’t understand. They preach Christian values but don’t seem to live by them. But that’s a conversation for another day. Happy Halloween!
Thankfully, that has never happened even once, to anyone I have ever known. To me, those people are the real monsters and their costumes are who they are, icky people, really icky people who have no idea what they are even going on about. Blah on them, each and every one. Happy Samhain and may the dancing begin.
Where I lived before was a nice little suburb and there was one house that always gave them out. They were horrible little pamphlets. Then when we moved to a more rural area, I thought okay, no more of that. And I was wrong. There is one house in our quaint little town that does the same thing. Same type of pamphlet almost word for word. Similar enough that I figure they must get them from the same source.
When I was a boy Halloween was nothing. Bonfire night on November 5th was the big excitement. Halloween seems to have spread east from the US because now it is very big business!
It’s extremely big business nowadays (wasn’t always that way). It’s become very commercialized and the costume and candy sales start earlier and earlier every year.
really enjoyed your perspective on this – and I agree – and I actually also love what you wrote in one of the comment replies:
“have no respect for those who twist their faith to suit their own purpose or to condemn others…”
have anise week.
Thank you, I appreciate that!
I hope you have a great week!
and side note – my pet peeve is when I see folks (zealots) do this at restaurants – and then leave a crappy tip – they have the pamphlets with bad art and condemning messages (capital H ) and then leave like they did someone a favor. Horrible manners. My son and I just had a talk about the saying that “Christians should speak as a last resort” – and well, the message of that to me is that Christians should wait to be asked before they share about something so personal – and then the whole Hell message – really? ok, don’t even get me started because I have volumes to say on this topic, ha! But I also like your point about the commercialization – because “home decor” is now on the list too – and whew, some of those costumes are hundreds of dollars….