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Halloween History

Halloween History
By J.L. Robb

“If this is like previous Halloweens, the emergency room at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta will treat children for cuts and banged heads from falls, or even worse, those struck by cars.” ~The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

I had my first encounter with Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1980, and it was not an unpleasant experience. The two ladies were very nice, polite and informative. It was Halloween when they stopped by, so of course I offered them a wide variety of chocolates and candy corn treats, as well as candy apples. They politely refused, which was puzzling at the time; because who doesn’t love chocolate?

“You don’t like chocolate candy or hard-as-a-rock candy apples?” I asked. I didn’t mention that I have a crown where my front tooth resided at one time, all because of a candy apple.

That’s when the two ladies explained that Witnesses didn’t celebrate Halloween.

Now, I was going through my religious awakening at this time and knew right away that this religion was probably not for me. I queried.

“What about Christmas?” I asked.

Nope, they don’t do Christmas either. Then they explained that they didn’t even celebrate their birthdays.

“You mean, you don’t ever swap presents and give gifts and get candy?”

They tried to explain the pagan roots of many holidays we celebrate, but I was having none of it. I just like chocolate too much. And I was still pretty skeptical of what I was reading in the Bible, especially Leviticus which was no fun at all. Lots of rules, many of which just made no sense to me since I had broken so many.

The two ladies and I did become friends, and they would stop by every month or two, wanting to pray for me. Guess they knew I needed help.

Why do we celebrate Halloween? What’s the purpose? Why would we, as parents, deliberately celebrate a holiday that leads our children into rush hour traffic in the dark? To eat fattening stuff? It really makes no sense.

According to news sources, there are 4 times as many children killed (ages 5-14) on Halloween eve than any other eve of the year, including New Year’s Eve; and falls are the leading cause of injuries. My dad used to believe Halloween was a conspiracy by dentists to increase business, but now dentists buy candy back from kids. We do have an obesity problem, though I doubt it’s from Halloween candy.

All Saints’ Day is celebrated by Catholics and much of Western Christianity on November 1. This holiday is to honor all saints, even the saints who are not yet known. Hallow means Holy, so Halloween refers to the evening before All Saints’ Day. But the origination of Halloween goes back even further than the Catholic church.

Two thousand years ago in the land that is now England, Scotland, Ireland and Northern France, the Celts celebrated the new year on November 1. The day marked the end of summer and the beginning of the cold, dark winter. The night before, on October 31 the Celts celebrated the Festival of Samhain believing that the night marked an overlapping between the world of the living and the world of the dead. Of course, the living dead can now be seen on TV almost any night of the week. Zombie costumes are a hot item this year, but we surely don’t want to offend the zombies!

The dead who roamed the night of October 31 were always up to no good, creating famines and plagues or other natural disasters. The Druids were the Celtic priests, and it was believed that the mysteries of October 31 eve helped the Druids predict the future. Large bonfires were built, and animals were sacrificed to the Celtic gods while the Celts wore costumes, usually consisting of animal heads and skins. Sounds pretty disgusting to me.

When the Roman Empire conquered the Celts in 43 A.D., some of the Roman celebrations were blended with the Celtics’. One such blend was Feralia, a day in late October that honored the passing of the dead from the world of the living. The second blend of holidays resulted in the day of honor for Pomona, the goddess of fruits and trees. A symbol of Pomona was the apple and on Halloween even today, there will be many “apple bobbing” events.

By 1000 A.D. the Catholic Church had successfully merged the pagan rituals of the Celtic Festival of Samhain into All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead, celebrated on November 2 after All Saints’ Day. The early church was romanticized with pagan customs that carry on even today, incorporated into our holiest days.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 40 million kids aged 5-14 will be out trick-or-treating tonight. There will be many deaths and injuries before this night is over. Why?

Some municipalities are incorporating strict laws, sometimes against the parents, if kids are found tricking because they didn’t like their treat. That is what trick-or-treat means; give me a treat or I will trick you which always results in some kind of damage.

Seven billion dollars will be spent on Halloween with the average family spending $75.00 on costumes and candy. In 1993 the costume of choice for children was Barney; in 2013 it’s the Twerky Teddy Miley Cyrus costume. If you haven’t seen Miley twerking, don’t watch it on a full stomach. I would post a youtube link, but I’m afraid my keyboard will self-destruct. Barney to Twerky in just 20 years.

You might be interested to know that our colleges are looking out for our college age kids though. Miley costumes in; cowboy and Indian costumes out.

Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate and I always put candy out for the kids; usually something I like. We don’t have many kids in my neighborhood, where the average age is deceased. Almond Joys and Heath Bars will be available tonight, and I will leave celery packets and broccoli sticks for the kids.

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