Happy Occult Day, Everyone!

October 31, 2014
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Today is the day when many of our children will dress up as witches, vampires, skeletons, mummies, ghosts and other distasteful and devilish creatures, often complete with fake blood, scary painted faces, and other realistic additions. Their teachers at school will often do the same, and then they will all party together to celebrate this super "fun" day.

In the evening, we parents will take our dressed up children door to door in our neighbourhoods. Many of the houses will be decorated like different levels of hell, with gravestones, skulls and skeletons, yellow police tape, copious cobwebs, spiders and bats, severed bloodied limbs and bloodshot eyeballs, ghosts and frighteningly realistic moving monsters. The strangers who open the door may also be dressed as sundry inhabitants of the netherworld. But you know, they will hand out candy, so it's all incredibly awesome.

Am I missing something here? Yes, I am. Here's what I am missing. While the focus of Halloween is no doubt on the witches and ghosts, there will also be many teenagers and young people (along with others not so young) who will also use this day as an excuse to wear the most provocative costumes they can get away with, making this a high school day most kids would never miss and setting the scene for wild debauchery at the many parties that are planned on this night. 

And finally, there will be the wholesome contingent: the people who are trying to ignore all the dark sides of Halloween (like ignoring the dark side of the color black). They will dress their kids and themselves in innocent and adorable characters like Winnie the Pooh and robots and such. They may decorate with Jack-o-Laterns and make cute crafts like wiggly Twizzler-leg spiders. That will make it all better, surely.
Our own family won't be among any of these revelers. I understand the desire of many of our Catholic friends to go along and get along, but I don't share that desire. Coming from a background of Communism, I think it's okay to explain to our children from an early age that we are in some ways different from the culture in which we live. The society we live in is secular and we are not. Our society celebrates and endorses many things that we, as Christians, know to be wrong. Our kids have to get used to that, because that is the reality, and Halloween is one such lesson. There will be many similar lessons in the years ahead.

This time it is actually an easy lesson. Our children naturally recoil from all the ugliness of Halloween "decorations." The seasonal shelves at various stores are filled with Halloween items that are just too disgusting, and our neighbourhood is dotted with awful house displays that can be truly scary to little children. The secular version of Halloween speaks for itself, and our kids get it. It's really only us, the adults, who can be duped into thinking that it's an indispensable tradition to celebrate the occult and the stuff of nightmares each year. 
Not many people even know why Halloween exists in the first place. What is there to "celebrate" on this supposedly festive and yet utterly meaningless day? Most secular people would be at a loss to explain why they are sticking vampire teeth into their mouths and donning Dracula capes, beyond the rather pale entertainment value.
We've explained to our children that Halloween is really All Hallows Eve, which is the vigil of All Saints' Day. November 1st is the real celebration: the celebration of all the saints who have made it to heaven, the role models that we look up to and hope to emulate. We Christians still celebrate the real celebration, not the twisted secularized version which has no rhyme or reason. 
After we celebrate all the saints, November 2nd is All Souls Day. This is the day when we pray for all those who have died and who may well be in purgatory. In the Czech Republic, the tradition was to visit family plots in cemeteries on that day. People used to clean the graves of their ancestors, light a candle for their dear departed and say a few prayers for those who preceded them along the journey we all must take.
The real Hallow E'en makes a lot more sense, doesn't it?
Photo: Kevin Dooley via Photopin.

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