COMMENTARY: Some Things One Should Know About Halloween

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"Halloween Tree" by H_Elise is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Rev. Dr. John E. Warren | Publisher San Diego Voice & Viewpoint

In the midst of the Coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed over 225,000 lives in the United States, thousands of people will be celebrating Halloween this weekend. The event has grown into a 9 billion dollar industry, which is the amount the National Federation of Retailers says will be spent this year for Halloween 2020. Of that amount, $3.2 billion will be spent on costumes; $2.7 billion on decorations; $2.6 billion on candy, $400 million on greeting cards and an average of $86.79 by each of those individuals or families celebrating the occasion.

Most people are not aware of the history of Halloween or the fact that the observance was brought to America by the Irish during the Potato Famine of 1840. From about 1930 until Mickey Mouse had a Halloween celebration in the 1950’s, it had been an occasion for pranks or tricks on people if they didn’t have treats. Disney’s Mickey Mouse Halloween celebration through animation was responsible for the growth and takeoff of the celebrations today.

But the history is not as fun as the observance has become. The history is a mixture of the Catholic Church’s observance of All Saints Day and All Souls Day, to be celebrated on November 1st. That date was considered a “holy” day. The evening before became known as All “Hallows” Eve. The original celebration dated back more than 2,000 years to the Druids and the time of harvest.

Eventually the idea surfaced that the spirits of the dead came out the evening before “The Day of the Dead” and sought bodies to inhabit the night before. The idea of the pumpkin was to carve a face and put a candle in the pumpkin, with the pumpkin placed in one’s window or door. This told passing spirits that the dwelling was already inhabited and, therefore, the spirits would move on to look for another place.

“celebration – dia de los muertos – mexico” by uteart is licensed under CC BY 2.0

To those of the Catholic faith, in Mexico the celebration adopted elements of the Aztec culture and tradition and was added to the Day of the Dead or “Dia de Muertos”, a time honoring those who have passed on. What has now become a three day celebration is a time for family gatherings for prayers and remembrance of the dead.

The other side of this story is that in many Protestant faiths, Halloween is seen as a Satanic event. The celebration of witches and demons forbidden in the Bible. The conclusion of the matter is that one should know and understand that which they celebrate.

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