Every year there is one holiday that brings people together for the sole purpose of bringing joy to others, sharing the spirit and love of protection, and putting a smile on the face of children … but it’s not Christmas. What was once an ancient tradition of celebrating the dead and the end of a harvest season has gone through tens of thousands of years of transformations from one culture to another. Worldwide, Halloween is acknowledged by multitudes of cultures under different names such as Dia Day Los Muertos, and comes with its own unique traditions and values. But, in America – could the significance of Halloween be one of the few Cultural Traditions left that define the country?
In the U.S., Corporate greed has obviously infiltrated and overwhelmed the Halloween tradition – but its colonial ties still stay strong. Costumes worn on Halloween are ‘supposed’ to scare off the dead (as the dead are just normal people … in a somewhat more ghostly form … and as scared of monsters and demons as anyone alive). Parties were locations for people to gather in large numbers for reasons of safety (and we all know what happened to poor Ichabod Crane who wandered out on his own). As the final harvests of the season were done, farmers pulled together their crops, made candies, bread, and other treats and passed them along to one another – especially the kids (probably keeping them busy o.0 ).
- Halloween is the only holiday where people gather together in groups not just for peace and love among family and friends (like Christmas), but for safety and protection of everyone in the village. It is truly one of the most communal events we have.
- Halloween is the only holiday where the gifts we buy or bake, and the decorations and hard work put into the season are not for ourselves, but to bring thrills and enjoyment to others. Unlike Christmas – there is no getting anything back in physical form. Our reward, our expense, and our efforts are reimbursed by the smiles and joy seen on the faces of others.
- Halloween is peace in a time of adversity. Christmas is an amazing time of peace for the whole of the world (which I’ll elaborate on come December), but Halloween doesn’t benefit from the cease fire, the backing of Church and state, and other cultural, political, and social sources. The trick-or-treating, sharing of one’s wealth, bringing joy to others, and other wonderful rewards come during a period of superstitions, outrageous acts of deviancy by terrible people, and amid a media frenzy of fear mongering. Yet, people still manage to overcome all of this to bring forth a night of imagination, excitement, and fun, opening their doors in trust of complete strangers who in turn, offer their equal trust.
Another unique aspect of Halloween is the costuming. Dressing up is more than the act of donning a costume to get some candy (otherwise, if it were that easy to get free candy … that would be a daily tradition for a LOT of people). Putting on a mask allows little boys and girls to leave behind the harsh realities of life and open up their minds and imaginations to the ideas of infinity … in other words: you can be anything you want to be, if you just believe and work hard enough for it. That fundamental principal is not only important for our children’s success, but it’s the same, underlying standard that newcomers to America believed in, and each and every person in America wants to be true – anything is possible.
Halloween is a time to forget the everyday fears that we have about socializing, leave behind the cell phones, and go out and meet people. If there was ever a time when that was needed in the U.S., now is that time.
But, Halloween … and its spirits and traditions, are slowly fading away. Religious mongers (the few … not the majority) who claim to believe in the Bible, apparently do not believe in the God-given right to free will and free choice fight nationwide to ban the practice of Halloween. Politics, homeowner’s associations, and other “uppity” folks who foolishly place themselves on a pedestal (wearing their fake costumes year round), ban the practice as they’re too worried about getting their homes egged because they don’t want to be part of the culture in the country in which they choose to live (albeit … they want the control over large groups where they live … but they don’t want to have to participate in any truly, supportive way).
Kids are now funneled into churches, strip malls, and/or limited to isolated ‘pre-approved’ areas to trick-or-treat. While it’s good that parents have taken the responsibility to provide a safe experience for their children – destroying cultural traditions has consequences and the lack of parental involvement in these situations is … disturbing. The communal aspect is there … but the holiday traditions (and reasons for practicing those traditions), are lost in the mix.
Around the world, every country has significant cultural traditions that they observe. From Japan to Africa, England to South America, various cultures pass down their traditions in the form of an unwritten law. Their entire society’s value system is dependent on strict adherence to those traditions. It allows them to remember who they are, where they come from, the struggles they’ve faced, the adversity they’ve overcome, and keep strength in their faith and their values.
America is very unique as it has very few to no cultural traditions.
Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July are truly the only other cultural celebrations (albeit very skewed to this day), that are unique to America – and rest upon the shoulders of some very questionable history. Household traditions, family values, and the like have been thrown to the wind. And, decades upon decades of fear mongering about Halloween and a select few idiots that celebrate the season in a deviant way have managed to work hard to destroy the real values of Halloween.
And … with it comes the loss of socialization among friends and strangers, the loss of community strength, and the disappearance of kindness and sharing of wealth with no reward. It’s clear why Halloween has come under such terrible attack over the years … if you want to destroy a culture … a population … a Country … start by tearing out the foundation of its beliefs and undermine any of its positive traditions.
Not all, but many religions have foolishly spurned Halloween due to its historical context, setting aside truth for convenience. This has caused distrust among religious leaders and people while frankly, chasing away those who could have been the strongest of its followers. For persons of faith to cast stones at Halloween is a contradiction, at best. It was Christianity and Catholicism that burned innocent women and men during witch trials. It was Catholicism that permitted thousands of children to march to their deaths in a war they could not win. And so on, and so on (unfortunately… that list could go on for years). The point is, to judge Halloween based on historical context … is without justification.
Judging Halloween for satanic reasons is also absurd. Let me guess … religious folks think that scaring somebody with witches and goblins and monsters is terrifying and unhealthy. Equally, it could be argued that terrifying children into believing that they shall burn in fire and brimstone among a horde of demons is just as brutal. For some branches of these faiths, it’s the act of scaring with witches and goblins that supports satanic principals. But, the question then becomes: do religions acknowledge the existence of witches and goblins? Or … is that just a little ridiculous? Doesn’t Halloween reinforce the idea that monsters are bad … and if purgatory is full of them, then wouldn’t Halloween reinforce …
Christian/Catholic ideals of being good?
Maybe there’s a reason that All Saints Day follows Halloween …
But, let’s face it – Halloween is what you make it. If you celebrate it in the spirit of darkness … then it is dark. If you celebrate it for what it’s supposed to be – then Halloween is something amazing!
Yes, there are times when halloween’ers’ may go a bit too far … and it is, too far. Even I’ve put up haunted houses that scared the sturdiest of souls without one person being chopped up or pieced up. Halloween’s not about gore … it’s about the thrill, the imagination, and the fund. We can’t allow the few individuals that do stupid things ruin it for everyone else or future generations to come. People do bad things all year long and should be held accountable … people hurt people … not Halloween! For far too long has America allowed the few to ruin fun for the majority … and Halloween’s a perfect time to get back to some fundamental Democracy and change that back around!
For one night … one day … you set aside the world and open your door to strangers. They thrill you with their creativity, their smiles, and their excitement, and in return, you give a little something (and … unless you’re truly broke … don’t be cheap … it’s only one night!!) to say: have fun, dude!
For one night – you let your imagination free. You remember those who came before so that you can appreciate what you have now. You imagine a world full of mystery, wonder, and enchantment. Politics, elections, war, and the like – mean nothing. Your Facebook, Twitter, and other square box social medias are meaningless and the real fun comes from being around others. You believe in a future where we could all run around, being a part of a community and taking care of one another.
For one night – America has a cultural celebration that, if the horrible idiocy of our past were put to rest, could define us as a nation of people who actually care about one another. It’s a holiday that could be the most culturally valuable America could possibly hope to have … and one of the last, few traditions to keep cultural values of community, friendship, and dreams of greater things to come, lasting for generations. So – turn on your lights. Open your door to trick or treat-ers. Don’t be fooled into losing the true spirit of Halloween and trick or treat in a mall, but get out of your car and walk around with your kids to protect them by actually BEING there for them .. not funneling them into a building, and enjoy the night!
This is Halloween!
“Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y’awl’s neighborhood
And whosoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpse’s shell
The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty thousand years
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom
And though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the thriller“