Saturday, October 10, 2015

ARE YOU READY FOR HALLOWEEN? (Rescuing the day from the candy and costume companies.)


The question I’m pushing is this: can you address your own family treasures and heirlooms around Hallowe’en, and get back to the roots of the day?


Hallowe'en announcement in Derry, Northern Ireland. 
Source: public domain via Wikimedia

You say: "No, I want some help."  Okay! Then let's go back to the origins of Hallowe’en. 

In the Christian tradition, Hallowe’en is the eve before All Hallows’ (All Saints’) Day. That’s why citizens of some European countries place candles around graveyards, or around their houses, or in and around churches, or all three. As the beloved saints leave their graves and wander around the town after sunset, they need some beacon light, even as tiny as a candle in a hollowed-out pumpkin. 

And remembrance of saints/ancestors is not just for Christians. Many, if not all, traditional West Africans remember their ancestors with offerings of food or hard liquor, as may be consistent with local traditions. They praise the ancestors and ask for their help and assistance in life. Japanese honor their ancestors twice a year. Reverence for and even fear of ancestors and saints (“hallows” in old English) is pretty much a worldwide reality.

Now let’s update these old traditions with a few ideas that can help you grow a Hallowe’en that’s “green” with meaningful family activities.

               First, call to mind the saints in your own family. With your parents, spouse or partner and/or children, name deceased parents or guardians, grandparents and other family saints as far back in your lineage as you can go. What special values, strengths, or traditions did they bestow on you? You don’t have to name all of them at one time. Instead, maybe name one at each meal time. Start now and keep a list to avoid repetition until November 1, All Saints’ Day. On that day, read the entire list and give thanks. 
  • Idea 2: Also, name some key secular saints that are important to you for their contributions to your life. For example, the gruff and courageous Winston Churchill or William Wilberforce.
  •           Idea 3: Include some saints of traditions other than your own, such as Mahatma Gandhi if you’re Korean, or Nelson Mandela if you're Tamil.

Do these honored saints of yours help you and your community get their bearings and live for a better future, undistracted by the hubbub of current life? You bet they do. You want to be armed with enduring values, adjusted to current and future challenges. What are saints for if not the big things in life? Dip into the well left for you by your saints. 

In sum: have fun handing out candy to the ghosts and goblins at your door on October 31. And for your own growth and guidance, set that activity in the bigger context of All Hallows Evening.



Below, a slogan or a prayer. Print it and tape it on your table to use daily as you see fit:

Spirit of the past and the future, you have set us in communities that endure over generations. Enable us to remember the virtues of our own saints and apply their values to the challenges of our days.                 Amen.


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