Monday, October 31, 2005



Christians and Halloween

Writing in the Herald (behind the paywall), Glynn Cardy shows that not all Christians are pouty-faced over Halloween:

The God I believe in - full of life, love and laughter - joins me as I giggle at ghosts and groan at the horror genre. To take such things seriously, to give them a "real" presence, allows them too much power.

Halloween is a day to celebrate the imagination, and to become for an evening something mysterious and strange.

It's a day to rejoice in make-believe. It's a day to thumb our noses at the real world and go skipping off with winged horses and fairy folk. There is a reality to fiction and a value in fantasy that is wonderful and God-given.

By contrast, Christians of the pouty-faced variety seem to be ruled by fear - fear not just that the things we laugh at on Halloween are real, but also fear that they are not, and that nothing bad will happen for mocking them. After all, if ghosts, goblins, ghouls and evil spirits aren't real, and people aren't punished for thinking that, what might that imply about their god...?

13 comments:

I just fail to see the reason for adopting Halloween in NZ. Its not like it has a history in our particular slice of anglosphere culture - instead we seem to be importing the holiday after it has been sanitised and packaged by the media machine. Blah.

I suppose it's being pushed because if it gains enough ground, Guy Fawkes will lose support and they can get around to outlawing fireworks completely, and make more money out of halloween gimmickery marketing.

Posted by Weekend_Viking : 10/31/2005 01:25:00 PM

Yawn.

Posted by stephen : 10/31/2005 04:11:00 PM

My parents saw halloween when they were living in Canada and really loved it. Thus they bought it back with them when they went back to New Zealand so I went trick or treating way before anyone advertisers had really cottoned on to it.

Posted by stef : 10/31/2005 05:13:00 PM

Just to balance up perspective, I'm a Wiccan and I loathe Halloween. Nothing ruins celebrating Beltaine Eve than having kids dressed up as 'witches' knocking on the door every five minutes cruising for sweets. Actually, tell a lie, the 'trick or treaters' we get here are all about fifteen and not even wearing costumes. And yeah, it's an American tradition imported by the Warehouse. We don't give presents on Father's or Mother's Day either.

But it's only Trick or Treating I have a problem with. My daughter went to a full-own Halloween costume party on Saturday and had a blast.

Posted by Ghet : 10/31/2005 05:24:00 PM

On the few times I've seen trick or treaters in NZ (ChCh), they've generally been very hesitant, confused, not sure what to do when they get a house which just doesn't do Halloween, and have their parents lurking at the end of the drive in case the house should could contain ritual satanic abusers or pedophiles. Or they've been fifteen yearolds with minimal costume cruising for sweets.

About the best response I've heard of so far was this:

At a ChCh student flat in the mid to late nineties, a somewhat petite but pneumatically fronted acquaintaince of mine had just taken a shower, and was wandering down the corridor in her dressing gown when her flatmate noted through the lounge window a couple of the 15 yearold boy sweetcruising variety of confused trick or treaters about to knock on their door.

The flatmate was about to answer the door and apologise for the household not doing trick or treating, but she dislodged him with the plea 'O please, can I!?', shunted him out of the way, answered the door, and when the boys ask 'trick or treat', she yells 'Treat', throws wide her dressing gown and flashes them, then slams the door an appropriately long but still split second later.

Apparently the bulk of the local hormonal schoolboys were to be seen pointing out 'there, thats the house, there' from across the street for months.

Posted by Weekend_Viking : 10/31/2005 06:13:00 PM

The thing that amuses me the most about the pouty Christians is that they are so ignorant. Guy Fawkes is really just the pagan bonfire night - Samhein with fireworks. Doesn't seem to bother them at all. Yah gotta laugh

Posted by Anonymous : 10/31/2005 06:38:00 PM

Look at any Christian festival and it's just a straight pinch from something pagan. Easter for example. Eggs and rabbits... that's such an obvious (NH) spring fertility ritual...

Posted by Anonymous : 10/31/2005 07:20:00 PM

Same with Christmas really.... based on the date of the pagan Winter solstice celebration.

I used to hand lollies on halloween. I'd open the door complete with rubber mask and water pistol and yell bruuhahaha! I stopped after I scared a 5 year old girl so much she fell off the step and burst into tears.

I've also found the kids around my neighbourhood are greedy little bastards, wanting the whole bag of sweets instead of just a few. My system of reward for costume effort didn't go down well either, with those in just a stupid plastic mask complaining that the kid in the full-on awesome spiderman costume got more lollies than they did. The cruising fifteen year olds in minimal to no costume never got much funnily enough and as a result were the biggest complainers.

I basically hide now and don't answer the door, though this doesn't stop some of the kids round here who have been known to open unlocked doors and walk in looking for lollies.....

Posted by Anonymous : 11/01/2005 10:22:00 AM

We do a whole Catholic Day of the Dead thing. And happily acknowledge that we nicked it off a Pagan feast. We have a tormented soul from Purgatory that chases the kids for prayers :) Although our dog decided that Shoei in a mask was a threat to all the small puppy/children and had to be taken out. Poor dad. LOL

And as for Easter, well it's actually from the Jewish Passover, sorry Pagans... However in Celtic/Germanic countries, Passover and the spring fertility celebrations coincided and the symbols were incorported, thus the rampant bunnies and eggs.

But Easter never was a spring fertility celebration, it was always specifically about the crucifiction of Christ. But you can see how the symbolic themes became intertwined - sacrifice and resurrection, with fertility and fecundity.

For Catholics, Halloween is All Hallow's Eve, because Nov 1 is All Saints Day.

Certain Christian protestants are squicky about Halloween because they don't do purgatory or Catholic feasts and because of that wonderful Catholic morbid goth thing, which gets you chapels of skulls and relics of saints bones and blood and such like.

But then they miss out on all the fun!!! Muhahaha.

Posted by muerk : 11/01/2005 02:11:00 PM

I'm going to assume Muerk means the DATE is passover, because Easter sure as sugar has Pagan origins.
http://www.religioustolerance.org/easter1.htm

"About 200 B.C. mystery cults began to appear in Rome just as they had earlier in Greece. Most notable was the Cybele cult centered on Vatican hill ...Associated with the Cybele cult was that of her lover, Attis (the older Tammuz, Osiris, Dionysus, or Orpheus under a new name). He was a god of ever-reviving vegetation. Born of a virgin, he died and was reborn annually. The festival began as a day of blood on Black Friday and culminated after three days in a day of rejoicing over the resurrection."

Posted by Ghet : 11/01/2005 03:05:00 PM

Sorry Ghet, Easter as pagan, that's hokum, and I say that as a religious studies major, not as a Christian. No serious scholar actually believes that.

It's been popularised by rubbish like Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, but a pagan origin for Christian Easter is just pie in the sky. Don't believe the whole Isis = Vigin Mary stuff, it's fantasy and within serious scholarship, like believing in flat earth theory :)

By the way, if you want to make that kind of academic point, use a peer reviewed journal of religious studies, not some website.

And last but not least, the reason that you get this kind of similarity is because life and death, motherhood and sexuality are universal themes. This doesn't mean that the crucifiction is in any way derivitive. If you want me to point you to some academic links about this, no probs.

Posted by muerk : 11/01/2005 09:10:00 PM

In fact here's one for free, although more about Biblical themes rather than focusing specifically on Christ, but it will help give you some idea why Easter doesn't have pagan origins.

http://theologytoday.ptsem.edu/apr1970/v27-1-article4.htm#Anderson

Theology Today is published by Princeton Theological Seminary btw.

Posted by muerk : 11/01/2005 10:31:00 PM

Muerk, I'm assuming you went to the site (run by a group of people including Christians, Pagans, Jews, and Atheists) and read the footnote from the quote on the Cybele quote attributing it to an existent and fully checkable pre-Christian Roman source. Not a contemporary novelist, the Da Vinci Code is fiction, this is history. I look at this from an historical point of view rather than a religious one, my religion is rather secular.

It's not a debate I want to get in here though, because y'know, this isn't my site. What I want to pick up on is the thing we agree on. The basic concepts of all religions are universal concerns of human beings, they don't belong to any one religion in particular. I don't see anything wrong or debasing in one religion having traditions in common with another, I think it's great. And I don't mean to imply that Christianity has somehow 'ripped off' Paganism. That'd be like saying the Maori creation myth is a rip-off of the Greek one because they happen to be uncannily similar.

And I'll grab that link and look at it tonight, when I'm not skiving off on my lunch break.

Posted by Ghet : 11/02/2005 01:18:00 PM