October 22, 2002
5:05 PM   Subscribe

For some, Halloween can mean candy, treats, and tricks. For others, Samhain can be an important religious holiday. The Witch's Sabbats are the calendar of pagans, where the celebration of time is underway. There are more rituals then could all be linked. Some prefer solitude, while some prefer groups. There is a Christian understanding of the correlation between Pagan holidays and Christian holidays. But then some people pull the old Bible out. And then some people just miss the point entirely.
posted by benjh (28 comments total)
My favorite current trend is the churches that have an “alternative” for Halloween, and then put it on a different day (because they want it on a Saturday, or whatever). So the kids just get both Halloween and the candy day put on by the church.
posted by Gary at 5:21 PM on October 22, 2002

Hell House has always been a favorite of mine...
posted by reverendX at 5:31 PM on October 22, 2002

For Halloween, I'm going to read Harry Potter while dressed as a character from Lord of the Rings (probably Gandalf), but I will hand out Gideon Bibles and copies of the Book of Mormon at the door, along with pepperoni sticks, coca-cola, and Pixie Stix. That should offend just about everybody.

(Although if I could find a way to work in some sweatshop produced Nikes, and maybe blare some Backstreet Boys out of a pumpkin...)
posted by namespan at 6:19 PM on October 22, 2002

That last link to Tripod is already out of bandwidth... Anyone care to pass on what it had to say?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 6:37 PM on October 22, 2002

Halloween, as practiced in modern-day America, is nothing more (or less) than one big nation-wide costume party. Nothing magical, nothing religious, nothing satanical. Just people getting creative, being festive (and just a wee bit frightful), and reveling in the sheer sugar-laden goodness of it all.

It's my 2nd favorite holiday.
posted by davidmsc at 6:38 PM on October 22, 2002

It's my 2nd favorite holiday.

Here, here! I think we all know what occupies the number one spot... ah, President's Day....
posted by Stauf at 6:59 PM on October 22, 2002

"I think we all know what occupies the number one spot"

Teach A Friend to Homebrew Day, of course.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:06 PM on October 22, 2002

You silly gooses...Independence Day, of course - for without it, we may not have the freedom to celebrate any other holidays. (no derail meant - sorry to be serious for a moment...let the hilarity resume!)
posted by davidmsc at 7:14 PM on October 22, 2002

namespan is my new hero.
posted by Hall at 7:39 PM on October 22, 2002

I say try sweatshop-produced fur Nikes...
posted by tss at 8:04 PM on October 22, 2002

When I was in grade school, there was a girl in my class whose mother always took her out of school during our class Halloween party because she thought it was the devil's holiday. The one year she did participate, she dressed as the Virgin Mary.

Personally, I always loved Halloween. My birthday is a week before Halloween and I always wondered why I could have a birthday party OR a Halloween party, but not two parties, when I was younger.
posted by SisterHavana at 8:06 PM on October 22, 2002

Being a witch I consider it a rather solemn religious holiday. I perform a sabbat and meditate.
posted by nyxxxx at 8:27 PM on October 22, 2002

Now I know about Samhain I'll need to redo those party invites I was just about to send off...
posted by cbrody at 8:32 PM on October 22, 2002

Well for me, it's a religious holiday. My family and I will be taking my youngest daughter trick-or-treating (she's a mouse this year, she's 2 and freekin adorable). After that, we're going home to have a nice Samhain dinner, make some toasts, but the toddler to bed, light some candles and watch some scary movies.

My wife is Roman Catholic, I'm Pagan. I do take time out durring the night for some private time to pray, etc, but I like to involve my family as much as possible. True, the day is traditionally (amongst pagans) as a day to remember the recently departed, but we (my family) prefer to focus on the "wheel of the year" aspects of the holiday and as such, is easily celebrated even with our different religious backgrounds and be fun for the kids as well.

Lot's of good info on the pagan side of the holiday can also be found here.

posted by lasthrsman at 8:55 PM on October 22, 2002

benjh, you say you are an "author of various projects, and funny little excerpts that get stuck in my head just because i can't focus to get them into the computer and onto the web" and I'm inclined to agree. None of the ideas brought up by these links is all that new, and there certainly is a lack of focus here, unless that focus is one of "Christians don't get Halloween; let's laugh at them". There are resources which can give the open-minded a valuable look at what the Christian objections to Halloween are, if one isn't too busy laughing at what they don't understand.

I don't necessarily agree with the fundamental Christian view of the holiday any more than I can stomach the poor characterizations of it from non-Christians (mostly pagans and atheists). Let me tell you what I laugh at: those who treat the festival of Samhain as if its some life-affirming time of peaceful celebration. Most pagan right is (IMO) not designed to show our fellowship with natural forces as it is designed to protect us from the fact that nature wants to kill us; death is all around. The festival of Samhain is a right of the reaping of souls, an acknowledgement of death in the cycle of life. Now how on Earth is that all that different in its silliness factor from all that Christian hooha we so enjoy laughing at on MetaFilter?

Its not. If you strive to understand, and accept the seriousness of the ritual that is performed, than all that goofy religion becomes part of who you are. I don't personally believe that any modern pagan or wiccan actually knows what the ancient rights or beliefs were, though they obviously think they do. Their faith gives efficacy to what they do, regardless.

Halloween is especially important to me, for its historical significance, its rather strained religious import, and its sheer irreverence. I wish all Mefites a very happy Halloween, and a hangover-free All Saints day.
posted by Wulfgar! at 9:21 PM on October 22, 2002

Wulfgar: That is just one of many rituals possible for the holiday. during my coven days, it's true, we did practice many a divination, invited the dearly departed, and share in wonder and awe at the world that tried to kill us with cold and hunger.

We DO acknowledge that death is just part of the cycle of life, and we take time on Samhain to reflect on our own mortality. But you forget it is ALSO a time to remember the promise of the return of spring and the lush life the world has to offer us.

As for the fundies fear of Halloween....well what do you expect? Pagans have a horned God and talk to dead people on Samhain. Of COURSE it makes them nervous.

That alone is one of the reasons why my wife and I do our best to raise our kids with understanding, and choose to celebrate the "lighter" side of the Sabbat...for now.

Remember, one of the wonderful things about Wicca is that nothing is written in stone. You are free to celebrate as you see fit. We don't need to know the "ancient rites and beliefs" in order to worship and celebrate as you choose. As you said: Their faith gives efficacy to what they do, regardless.
posted by lasthrsman at 9:47 PM on October 22, 2002

lasthrsman, you I'd like to meet someday.
posted by Wulfgar! at 9:50 PM on October 22, 2002

I'll take that as a complement. And hey, if you're even in NJ, drop me an e-mail. :)
posted by lasthrsman at 10:01 PM on October 22, 2002

Wulfgar: The focus was to give additional information people may not have had regarding the Holiday, as well as the general understanding and misconceptions of it. As I have been talking to people lately, and we've been talking about Halloween, many just didn't grasp the historical, and yes religion, implications of the Holiday. Someone I know, devout Christian, said it was "Satan's Holiday" which just is not true.

Also, the first link I provided regarding the Christian link has a lot of information about the Christian understanding of the facts of the pagan holiday, with Biblical recourse. I would say that it was a pretty even-balanced post.

I did a "from day one" metafilter search, and did not find any previous postings that really delved into the past of Halloween, so in that sense, it is new information to MetaFilter, even if it is not new information to you.
posted by benjh at 5:11 AM on October 23, 2002

...and some people memorize and rehearse their spooky, dramatic reading of "The Raven" every damn year, but absolutely no one has ever wanted to hear it. (or should that be filed under people who miss he point entirely?)
posted by planetkyoto at 5:38 AM on October 23, 2002


> Someone I know, devout Christian, said it was "Satan's
> Holiday" which just is not true.

How do you know it's not true? Was this a direct revelation from Cernunnos? It appears to me that the demonic orgy illustrated musically by Rimsky-Korsakov in Night on the Bare Mountain (and animated -- wonderfully -- in Disney's Fantasia #1) is just as "true" as any other mythological interpretation of a particular calendar date.


> Remember, one of the wonderful things about Wicca is
> that nothing is written in stone. You are free to celebrate
> as you see fit.

Heh. Sounds just like the Episcopalians.
posted by jfuller at 6:12 AM on October 23, 2002

Living people are far scarier than dead ones.

Night on Bare Mountain was Moussorgsky. (Rimsky-Korsakov had a "Night on Mount Triglav" though.) Wonderful piece anyway.
posted by Foosnark at 7:38 AM on October 23, 2002

Me, I'm handing out biblical tracts when the kids come to the door.
posted by kgasmart at 7:57 AM on October 23, 2002

As a Pagan myself, the best way I have found to describe Samhain to folks is that it is the Celtic version of Memorial Day. An oversimplification, but at least people don't get as confused compared to when I give them all the boring details.
posted by StormBear at 8:06 AM on October 23, 2002

planetkyoto, I couldn't agree more. Obviously, the only appropriate poem for All Hallow's Eve is Ulalume: "It was night in the lonesome October, Of my most immemorial year."

Despite the fact that I never do anything for Halloween, it remains one of my favorite holidays, probably because it seems to have retained more of its interesting mythic-archetype bits than Christmas or Easter. Does anyone know what, if any, equivalent holidays exist in non-European cultures?
posted by IshmaelGraves at 8:18 AM on October 23, 2002

As an areligious entity, I think Hallowe'en is the best holiday, followed closely by April Fool's Day, which isn't really a holiday, I guess, but ought to get more respect. Both Hallowe'en and April Fool's Day are great because they get a lot of people to be at least a smidgen more creative than they usually are, whether in creating costumes or devising pranks.
posted by picea at 8:54 AM on October 23, 2002

> Night on Bare Mountain was Moussorgsky.

Fumf, you're right. Written by Mussorgsky, orchestrated by Rimsky.

> Living people are far scarier than dead ones.

Amen, brother!
posted by jfuller at 9:53 AM on October 23, 2002

Recipe for this thread:
"My mythological Belief structure say that the holiday is this"

"no , you're wrong my mythological belief structure says it's this"

"Well, historically, it used to mean this, but in realtion to the first agrument I can sse how the second argument is valid"

posted by tj at 8:24 AM on October 24, 2002

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