Friday, October 27, 2006

It’s Halloween, Get Over It

Every year the radio station I work for holds the Great Pumpkin Giveaway. We find a merchant to host the festivities, and we give away 11 thousand pounds of pumpkins. This all came about because we went on the air October 31st 1988.

For 18 years we’ve celebrated our anniversary with pumpkins, hot dogs, giveaways, and the Monster Mash. But this year something interesting happened. Something appalling. Something so perverse that it makes my skin crawl (now isn’t that fitting for the season?) Our advertiser found religion. Yep, and kudos to them I pray every night for people to find the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. So when our ad ran in the local rag, replete with ghost and ghouls, bats and pumpkins there was a total up roar by our ad rep on behalf of the advertiser. Now suddenly, after years of hosting this fun HALLOWEEN event, they want it to be a Harvest Party.

Following this announcement, the voices streaming out from behind closed doors were REALLY, REALLY LOUD.

For 18 years this has been about Halloween and giving away pumpkins. The kids and the parents who show up eager for the largest pumpkin they can carry, aren’t there to get pumpkins for mom’s pie making (although homemade pumpkin pie is da’ bomb.) No, they are there to get jack-o-lantern pumpkins for Halloween night trick ‘r treating. Hello! These aren’t Satan worshipers. These aren’t little kids who are thinking about the after life – or possible lack there of. These aren’t little kids who weigh the balance of Jesus Christ and reincarnation. These are little kids in search of candy and wearing the best costume on the block. No religion involved. And that is how it should be. Religious fanatics – get over yourselves.

Yes, the foundations of Halloween lie in medieval tradition. The Celtic celebration of a new year. The Roman tributes to the Goddess Pomona. The Catholic tradition of All Saint’s Day. Traditions that have little to do with the DEAD.LIMBO.AFTER.LIFE. And definitely not in the way we today believe. Not the ghoulish embellishments of Hollywood, campfire spook stories, nor the Horror / Dark Fantasy genre. During the Dark Ages, encouraged by both Celtic and Catholic belief, living people (obviously, because if they were dead people I’d have to rethink my position) would extinguish their home fires, dress in scary costume, and loudly walk the streets. Why? Well to ward off the spirit world or bad spirits of winter, silly. I mean think about it. What right-minded spirit would want to live in a cold dark cottage inhabiting the body of a loud, drab man?

Over time traditions and beliefs have altered, melded with one another, and changed altogether. Enlightenment in the Western world ended the belief of spirit possession around All Hallows Eve. And while children to this day dress up in spooky garb begging for treats at each door, much like the soul cakes of the ninth century, our values connected to Halloween have been severed with the past. Today it is about fun. About scaring each other. And most importantly of all it is about CANDY. Lots of teeth rotting, fat producing, sugar high…

CANDY. So why in the last few years is it suddenly an affront to some Christians for anyone to enjoy Halloween? That adorable little tyke in the pink tutu isn’t thinking, I want to be a blood sucking zombie when I grow up (although it could be a possibility.) No, she is thinking. Wow, I hope they have the big candy bars, and not just stupid gumballs. When I was a kid, my church put on the best Halloween party, replete with cider, apple bobbing, candy, and costumes. I especially love the slide into the basement classroom through crepe streamer hanging down in the dark. Those women rocked.

In the seventies and eighties when people worried about the lunatics who laced popcorn balls, there was valid reasoning behind the fears. Today’s reasoning boggles my mind. When I say “Happy Halloween” to someone, I’m not thinking “Join with me and celebrate this non-Christian, non-holiday that extols the dead, the living dead, the undead, and the creep down the street.” No, I am saying. “Happy Halloween.” And thinking (sheesh, she’s 47 you’d think she’d get over the cheerleader phase because she definitely grew out of it. Next year she should use a walker and a shawl for her costume.)

OH! and I am also thinking, She better have good candy on her desk after she ate all my Tom’s peanut butter candies last year. And we all know it’s all about the CANDY.

Calista Cates
© October 2006


Sister Mary Lisa said...

Happy Halloween, Cele. Where are YOUR four truths and a lie?