Halloween, or Hallowe’en, or better yet, All Hallows’ Eve. The night before All Saints Day. Many of those who are recognized by the Church as saints have a Feast Day set aside for them. However, for Saints number 367 and up there is All Saints Day. It’s the heavenly equivalent of “et al.”
Of course many point to Roman and Celtic feasts that marked this day as being when the world of the living and the world of the dead came close to one another. I have no doubt that those may be true, but I’ll leave it to the Romans and Celts sort out who started it first. Considering how the Romans were in England from about 55 BC, they had ample opportunity to steal each other’s ideas. The early church had no problem co-opting existing feasts; it was kind of like marketing – “New and Improved! Halloween! Now with the Miracle Ingredient – Christian Perspective!”
However, I look Halloween this way.
- Halloween is a kid thing, regardless of how it started. Nothing wrong with letting the kids have some fun. Besides, Christ himself told us that the model for our relationship with God was to be like the children.
- Halloween is good time to remember that death is a part of life. Back in Louisiana, the day after All Saints Day – All Souls Day is traditionally a time to whitewash the family crypt. Crypts are used in low lying areas like New Orleans because bodies buried underground tend to pop out during floods. Crypts are a logical answer, but since they’re above ground they need attention
We sometimes forget – no, make that ignore the fact that life and death are intertwined. If you take time each year to paint the final resting place of your family, it’s a pretty strong reminder that someday you’ll be there too.
- Halloween puts things into perspective. My son Adam is now 13 and in this part of Virginia they actually have laws defining who can participate in Trick or Treating. Age 12 is the limit; above that and it’s a misdemeanor. Word is that they do actually cite over-age Trick or Treaters.
“How was work dear?”
“Well, I they took me off chasing drug dealers and murderers, but I managed to bust half a dozen illegal Trick or Treaters. You can sleep soundly tonight, dear, knowing it’s a safer world.”
Of course that might just be part of the local folklore like the headless pizza deliveryman. In any case, Adam was born when my older son was already out of high school (and I thought I was old then!). It seems like yesterday when he was born, and now he’s too old to dress up for Halloween. (Vanity, vanity, all is vanity…)
So there you have it, Halloween, not just candy but one more chance to get philosophical.
I’ll try to be funny tomorrow.