All Hallows’ Eve

Nothing like coming in at the last minute on this one. Today is Halloween. We Americans celebrate with costumes, candy, devil worship.

Wait, what??

I’m sorry, no. Where did this holiday come from anyway? What exactly are we celebrating? The truth here is that today’s Halloween is an American tradition born out of a hodge-podge of several other traditions. However, it started with the Catholics in Ireland honoring the saints who had passed on. The word, Halloween, came from All Hallows’ Eve, the night preceding All Saints’ Day, which occurs on November 1st. It’s a fascinating history, how it came to be what it is today, and I encourage you to read about it here.  As it turns out, it was never about celebrating or worshiping the devil.

I had an interesting conversation with my son at the bus stop this morning. A friend from school had told him that Halloween celebrates the devil. Which I sort of agreed with (not having read that article yet), but followed it up with the All Saints’ Day connection. Because that’s all I could remember about it’s history. I reminded him that I have never been a fan of Halloween and I have always been reluctant to participate. He then asked me, “why do we pass out candy then?”

Good question! I told him about when we first moved into this house, the house my husband grew up in, and the neighborhood he spent every Halloween soliciting for free candy (this was 7 years before we had children). I told him about our ongoing, bitter disagreement about passing out candy, and how after many weeks (years, actually) I eventually gave in for the sake of our marriage and because I do understand that he was just wanting to give back to kids what he was given when he was a kid. He has fond memories of the tradition.

As a preacher’s kid, I grew up knowing about the basic origins of Halloween, and we were allowed to go trick-or-treating, but it was never a big deal. It was certainly never my favorite holiday, and it never will be. I was glad for growing up with that knowledge, so I am pleased to see that my kids are interested in hearing it. I don’t think it spoils their fun in any way. We still let them participate in the activities put on by the school and community, and we let them dress up and beg for candy. We draw the line at gory or frightening costumes, but they’ve never wanted to be anything but princesses and super heroes, so that’s never been an issue.

After this weekend it will all be over and we can move on to the next holiday with controversial origins, Thanksgiving!

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