Halloween: Another Christian Digestion of Pagan Festival

The time of the year when Christians around the world are waiting to experience the spirits of the dead in the living world is called Halloween, celebrated annually on 31 October.

The origin of Halloween dates back to the pre-Christian period of Pagan religion.

It is believed that Halloween (contraction of All Hallows‘ Evening) also known as Allhalloween, All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve is originated from ancient Celtic harvest festivals, particularly the Gaelic festival “Samhain” . The ancient festival of Samhain marked the end of the harvest season and beginning of winter. It was seen as a darker period of the year when the spirits of the dead could visit the living world. The edible offerings such as food, drinks or portion of crops are used to be kept outside the home for the spirits.

The ‘Cultural Digestion’ as mentioned by Rajiv Malhotra (Infinity Foundation) is digestion of a less dominant culture by a more dominant culture is motivated by the desire to assimilate and reduce differences by asserting sameness. As a consequence, the less dominant culture is stripped of its distinctive, traditional cultural practices and values. These are now a component of the dominant culture and become associated with it. Memories of origins are erased and, eventually, the less dominant culture disappears.

In fact the Bible does not mention Halloween. The festival Samhain was Christianized by early Church and celebrated as Halloween. Today’s Halloween customs are largely influenced by Christian religious practices. The next day after Halloweens eve, Christians celebrate All Hallows’ Day (also known as All Saints’ or Hallowmas) on 1 November and All Souls’ Day on 2 November. This is the time of the year for honouring the saints and praying for the recently departed souls who have yet to reach the Heaven.

Over the years there were many changes in the way Halloween is being celebrated. People celebrate Halloween by making different food dishes, they buy Halloween costumes, play Halloween themed games and eat candy. We see people in Halloween costumes taking candy from door to door in the evening. At many places, Halloween parade with people dressed in different costumes is taken out. The festival Samhain marked the preparations for saving the crops and food for winter but today in Halloween we see wastage of food and resources. Earlier Halloween was about the spirits of dead ancestors, today it is all about Halloween costumes, candy and scary pranks. Billions of dollars are spent on Halloween costumes and candy. The National Retail Federation survey forecasted that spending on Halloween celebrations will be $9.1 billion in USA.

The obsession with ‘accumulating the things’ encouraged by various ad campaigns especially during festivals like Halloween is harmful not only to environment but also to mental health and happiness of the people.

A reasonable spending on spending on Halloween celebrations, less wastage of food and control over our eating habits will not only save environment but also increase our happiness in Halloween.

 

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