I imagine the last scene of Disney’s Fantasia where the big DEMON on campus is just waving his creepy-crawly goons to literally rise out the graves. To the music of course. Then they slink back to where they came as a church bell rings for dawn to wake up. What am I talkin’ about? All Saint’s Eve!
Evening Under the Horizon
I never thought about Halloween emphasizing the day after. Usually my idea of October’s last day brings about visions blurred in black and orange; complete with a cheap price tag on a bulk purchase. First world problems? I’ll chalk it up to history. Aaand a highly commercialized culture.
Saint’s Day? Who For?
First of all, let me just say that I’ve lost all track of religious holidays, save for the more commercial ones, because anymore there’s someone celebrating each day of the week somewhere in the world. Ashamed as I am to admit, half the time I forget when Palm Sunday and Good Friday is. Too many holidays! In any case, All Saint’s Day is a day celebrated by feasting for many Orthodox Christians and Catholics to celebrate saints and martyrs. Some people even celebrate the second day after Halloween known as All Soul’s Day to commemorate the departed and send prayers on their behalf.
Granted, I am no expert by any means on holidays of any form and religion in general, but I think it’s important that I remember the meaning of things. This especially goes for things often misunderstood by a majority. What do I mean? First, I’ll address what a saint is. I had little idea of the definition despite once studying Catholicism in college. I imagine my first impression being the norm: religious? Sounds important. I’ll just avoid it and take their word for it. Maybe not the best mindset. Many cultures around the world have a way to commemorate the dead or ancestors, whether it’s by libation ceremonies performed by pouring a beverage, sake and wine on a relative’s grave, or adorning a festival of food like that of Dia de los Muertos (can’t wait!). I’ll keep it short: In Catholicism, a saint intercedes to God on the behalf of the living like that of Jesus and are considered as living and as active in the human world (not to get all deep or nuthin’ ^^) as he is. But saints are not divine. They are not deities nor omnipresent, but they each preside over many activities of life to safeguard living people during different stages of life. For example, there’s apparently a saint titled St. Vitus who protects against oversleeping. Huh… Fascinating. I find it kind of fitting in a highly standardized, however dynamic and sleep-deprived world that seems to run solely on convenience. Who has time to cook dinner and set the table anymore? Maybe that question will be answered once TV-dinners go out of style. Oh wait. My bad…I meant who even watches TV anymore, right? ….RIGHT?
Oh, Halloween. Despite my religious background and some superstition in my family—mixed feelings in general—All Hallows Eve is one of my favorite holidays. I mean, dang, if summer can’t last forever I got to have something to brave the cold for. I like doing stuff. I especially love decorating, however temporary, however wasteful, however many bucks companies are raking in with the leaves during this time of year; I still love the holiday season despite all of that. Halloween marks the start of my own personal festival, a start of finding more things to do for a limited time before those experiences are packed away again.
There are reasons for skepticism, however, in this case. Let’s start with the obvious. Dressing up. Some parents don’t smile at the idea of their kids masquerading in demon masks and ghastly attire. Or the idea of similarly dressed, rambunctious teenagers. But the yearly, worldwide masquerade didn’t happen for no reason. Apparently beggars in the Middle Ages would ask for pieces of bread called “soul cakes” after agreeing to pray upon the departed in order to receive the free food. The source I read mentioned them being a type of doughnut, so I’m gonna assume it was a valuable piece of sweets worth asking for. Despite the occasional visit to cemeteries during this time, there’s no type of devil worshiping goin’ on. Well, okay, I mean there is The Church of Satan which is very much real but has nothing to do with this holiday and aren’t nearly as Hollywoodized and cult-like as people would have it seem. You readers are free to research at your discretion of course, but there’s no connection to Halloween on that end. I don’t imagine that church believes in hallow anyways ^^. The wearing of masks started much like other cultures with similar creations in that the accessory wards off evil or allows a person camouflage in the hopes that an evil spirit won’t detect them during their travels. In many cultures masks or related clothing are meant to mock spirits, helping the wearer fight fear by becoming the thing that frightens them. But only on the surface, of course.
I find it kind of sad how Halloween has steadily become more dangerous anymore. Not that it never has been before. I remember always being supervised while friends and I walked up to strangers’ houses –no matter how gorgeous and unassuming they were (my God, though, getting candy bars and cider from the mansions was THEE LIFE!). Some parents don’t feel right about the idea of their kids walking the streets at night nowadays, at least in my country. There’s a time and place for everything, I suppose, especially in the States. Nevertheless, a huge upside is the amount of communities getting creative. Since a majority of people aren’t as familiar with their fellow neighbors and neighborhoods as, say 15-20 years ago, outings have been the an increasingly popular thing. This of course helps businesses elsewhere: zoos, trains, farms and tourism in general. Anymore, specific locations are helping bolster the ongoing tradition of Halloween. Times will always be different. As much as I miss the closeness, if not the humbleness, of being in a close-knit neighborhood with the absence of smartphones and Mac PCs one can’t carry with them, I don’t think all hope is lost.
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