Well this is certainly one I didn’t see coming…
Maybe with the prolific and blind acceptance of fake news it has occurred to people that we can just change anything we want – including things like the date upon which Halloween occurs. After all, we did it to Christ and His birthday. What’s it matter to dis a few ghosts and witches?
Yet while it is true that we have often rearranged, renamed, and redefined holidays to suit the all-important gods of convenience, preference, and retail… maybe it is time to hit the “pause” button…
Listen up you self-indulgent busybodies… You have so decimated my industry and my genre in so many ways, GET YER MITTS OFF MY HOLIDAY!
Leave Halloween alone. There are actual reasons it is when it is…
All Hallows… A Real Thing and On the Church Calendar
If this generation has tired me out on one issue, it is the reluctance of the younger people running this country to place any value whatsoever on historical tradition (you know: actual facts).
Claim the petitioners:
“According to the Halloween and Costume Association, the organization that started the petition, 70 percent of parents do not accompany their children trick-or-treating and 3,800 people are injured every year in Halloween-related incidents. They say changing the holiday to a Saturday would make it safer, reports CBS News’ Jericka Duncan.” https://www.cbsnews.com/news/halloween-thousands-sign-petition-to-move-holiday-to-a-saturday/
Never mind you just admitted you can’t be bothered to accompany your own children… We did this to ourselves. And then claims another oppressed parent:
“…moving Halloween to a Saturday would be a treat for all. “It would be nice if we could all be together like we are with other holidays.”
Yeah, as a retail worker I think the same darn thing EVERY day after Thanksgiving. And then Thanksgiving. Let alone Christmas…It would be nice if WE ALL could spend holidays at home because the entire general public had 364 days to buy whatever they convinced retail stores they need the day OF…
But I digress… (Pardon ME for being selfish…)
The fact is, Halloween has reason for being exactly where and when it is on the calendar. And I have to wonder where all those mouthy silent majority folk are when it comes to messing with actual historical tradition.
The holiday we know as Halloween didn’t begin with irreverent mimicry of candy-hunting witches and Hollywood-inspired scary monsters.
No, it began with pagan rituals for the celebration of the end of the harvest and of the first day of the beginning of winter. And thereafter, even more appropriately with dead people and things that roam the darkest of night…
While fans of modern witchcraft have embraced the day—called Samhain by the medieval (and older) Gaelic peoples, trust me when I say it goes way, way back. It is pagan – and pagan is not only wiccan practices, but those of any population practicing polytheism and therefore not any of the modern, “accepted” religions. This means the date comes – along with the name and “holiday” – from very primitive sources, related to the land and the spirituality of the land. But it is seriously connected to human survival as dependent upon the accurate understanding of season cycles relative to growing your own food.
In other words, at its earliest invention, what we now call Halloween is directly connected to human history and specifically farming….
And because success or failure in farming was so intimately connected with the mysteries of the seasons, the sudden lessening of daylight, the deepening of shadows that seem to lull the world into a cold, dark sleep… the association with death and rebirth was a natural leap.
And death carries with it its own mythology and superstitions, including ghosts and goblins and fairies and devils…evil spirits and curses and spells… So it also makes sense that somewhere between our ancient ancestors’ hopes to “stack the deck” for a great next harvest and a safe dark winter, certain behaviors and rituals might be born… and practiced…and believed.
Traditions which the then “new” religion of Christianity might take issue with, and seek to replace or diffuse…
So while one might argue that Halloween is something created out of a Christian-twisted pagan holiday, and it is just about the “end of harvest” whenever that falls…so it can therefore be changed even more… this is to totally ignore the point of the day: the literal acknowledgement of the end of a safe, productive summer and the beginning of a cold, dark, treacherous time: Winter. In the North Countries.
Why should we care?
Today’s populations seem so disinterested in history… Yet because we humans aren’t as creative or original as we like to think ourselves, history far too often repeats itself. So logically if we are not going to take multiple steps backward in every undereducated, ignorant generation, and thereby reverse the advancements we manage to occasionally eke out and maximize our own growth toward true civilization and – yes – enlightenment… then we have to learn our own history, respect the lessons therein, and prevent stupid, backward facing actions from bringing us all down.
Learning history means doffing our hats to those who got the rest of us here. It means understanding exactly how we got here – warts and all.
Paganism and all.
Farming and all.
Because believe it or not we still have farmers in this world and God bless them, every one. Isn’t it important to understand how farming shaped our human society? How it globally still does?
You might not think we sacrifice virgins any more to get a great crop, but have you talked to the nurses in a children’s cancer ward or read the labels on pesticides lately? Have you counted how many actual small farmers are put out of business, or commit suicide annually because they are being driven out of their professions by monopolies? Trust me: we still have demons to fight, and darkness to bargain with…
And what about religion? What about the spin Christianity contributes to Halloween?
All Souls Day…All Saints Day… the remembrance of, honoring of, and prayers for all our dead having gone before us…what about them? I mean, aren’t we going to be them some day? Don’t you want a collective prayer, a day of remembrance bigger than the one the lawnmower man might get you running his John Deer over your nameplate?
What about the tradition of that?
It’s no coincidence that Halloween would be set when the first breath of winter sighs over the harvested fields, and emotions are spent…the first day of the cold, dark days of spiritual peril, days when the veil between this world and whatever comes next seems precipitously thin…
Halloween… Hallowe’en… All Hallow’s Eve… (eve being “even” in the Scots…contracted to e’en, or een)…
All Halloween, All of the Time…
The Feast of All Hallows, it is true, was moved to accommodate Church preferences…by Pope Gregory IV….in 835.
But it was purposely overlaid on Samhain, muddying the subversive beliefs of rural folk, guiding them toward Christian beliefs and actions.
And while these new Petitioners in today’s argument wanting to change the day of Halloween to the “last Saturday” of the month might point out such changes, the point of those changes that came before was to mask the day – the change of the season from autumn to winter – with something less superstitious and more Christian. It was meant to bolster faith, and spiritual protection – not to make lucky-to-have-both-kids-and-weekends-off parents’ lives easier.
Again we need to look at how Halloween happened in the first place. Its calendar recognition is not haphazard, not random, not “made up” for convenience. The actual date has astronomical significance as stated by Bruce McClure in Astronomy Essentials/Human World, Oct 31, 2017:
“But it’s also a cross-quarter day, which is probably why Samhain occurred when it did. Early people were keen observers of the sky. A cross-quarter day is a day more or less midway between an equinox (when the sun sets due west) and a solstice (when the sun sets at its most northern or southern point on the horizon). Halloween – October 31 – is approximately midway point between the autumn equinox and winter solstice, for us in the Northern Hemisphere.
“In modern times, the four cross-quarter days are often called Groundhog Day (February 2), May Day (May 1), Lammas (August 1) and Halloween (October 31).” https://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/halloween-derived-from-ancient-celtic-cross-quarter-day
And before anyone complains about calendars…We again must look at history, because we are now using the Gregorian calendar, and that also adds to the historic confusion a bit. Continues McClure:
“The October 31 date for Halloween has been fixed by tradition. The true cross-quarter day falls on November 7, representing a discrepancy of about a week. According to the ancient Celts, a cross-quarter day marks the beginning – not the middle – of a season…
“At that time, when the Julian calendar was in use, the cross-quarter day and the midnight culmination of the Pleiades fell – amazingly enough – on or near October 31. But, then, the Julian calendar was about one week out of step with the seasons. Had the Gregorian calendar been in use back then, the date of the cross-quarter day celebration would have been November 7.”
That’s right. Halloween is also about heavenly bodies and constellations. Halloween is all about astronomy. Like farming and religion used to be about astronomy.
“It’s thought that the early forbearer of Halloween – Samhain – happened on the night that the Pleiades star cluster culminated at midnight.
In other words, the Pleiades climbed to its highest point in the sky at midnight on or near the same date as this cross-quarter day. In our day, Halloween is fixed on October 31, though the midnight culmination of the Pleiades cluster now occurs on November 21.”
Halloween started as a date recognized by farmers as the point at which growing season was over and harvest needed to be complete. It was a reminder that there just might be some unpredictable factors involved in human survival, and that we have lived centuries trying to find the exact right formula if not bribe to ensure the best outcome. And it was also seen as something else – something laced with supernatural mystery because
“For us in the Northern Hemisphere, Halloween is the darkest of the cross-quarter days, coming at a time of year when the days are growing shorter. Early people once said that the spirits of the dead wander from sunset until midnight around this cross-quarter day. After midnight – on November 1, which we now call All Saints’ Day – the ghosts are said to go back to rest.”
Halloween was never about convenience.
There is absolutely nothing convenient about a Northern Winter when you live in a hovel. Or spirits roaming about — known or otherwise.
And now you want to change Halloween? To make it “safer”? … Well according to the Mothers Against Drunk Driving website :
“In 2014, 16 percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes during the week were drunk, compared to 29 percent on weekends. During weekday ay time, 12.1% of drivers tested positive for an illegal drug; 10.3% tested positive for prescription and OTC medications. During weekend nighttime, 15.2% of drivers tested positive for an illegal drug; 7.3% tested positive for prescription and OTC medications…” https://www.madd.org/statistics/
Surpise! Life has no guarantees.
And whatever happened to spontaneity? To recognizing that meaningful Life is not contained to weekends (which some of us work, incidentally and thank you)…
Life clocks along at its own natural pace…And for your information, those of us who trick-or-treated in the Old Days managed it just fine no matter what day it fell on. It was the all about the day… a time when the dead were honored and among us…
I wouldn’t be caught dead or walking dead trick-or-treating on any other.
Halloween falling on its astronomically determined date of October 31st reminds us that WE are not in charge…that winter will come for all of us, metaphor or not…right there with reckoning and judgment alongside your Snickers and Malted Milk Balls…
I say leave it be… The ghosts already know when to come out… The dead know when to walk.
Do you really want to exclude them from their own holiday?
And you are really going to ask this White House to change an historically, and spiritually significant date for convenience? That might be The Line, buddy…
Get a grip. It’s not all about YOU.
And it was never – ever – about fun.