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Dancing Skeletons Anyone?


Why does this column focus solely on Christianity? This is no "Faith Forum" as it totally ignores any other religion. Why not be honest and call it the "Christian Forum"? Halloween is Samhain (pronounced Sow-in) and is the traditional New Years Day of Celtic and other European pagan faiths, including Wicca. However, that is misleading as the actual focus of the holy day is more like Memorial Day. On this day the dead are memorialized, remembered and their contributions to the family and community are recalled. Some Halloween traditions come down from these celebrations. Jack O' Lanterns were originally carved from gourds, not pumpkins (there were no pumpkins in the Old World) and they had a serious purpose. They were used to light the path of the dead from this world to the next. Now they are children's playthings. The Catholic "Day of the Dead" on November 1 (the source of much of Halloween, a bastradization of "All Hallows Eve") was ripped whole cloth from Samhain and was another Christian "holy day" that was invented to marginalize and incorporate pagan beliefs into the Church. In so doing they shifted the focus from a solemn and beautiful rite remembering the dead to one of focusing on the morbidity and horror of the decomposing human body, pounding home the Christian message that immortality can only be gained through Christ. As for this forum, if it were truly a "Faith Forum" the managing editor of it would have tracked down a pagan and asked them this question.


denak 8 years, 3 months ago

There are two glaring mistakes in this blog.

First the assertion that the Faith Forum is Christian Forum. That isn't true. One only need to look at past forum questions to find answers from clergy representing Islam, Buddhism, Judiasim as well as other religions.

Secondly, there is no Catholic "Day of the Dead." This is a mischaracterization of both Dia de los Muertos and All Saints/Souls Day. First, The Day of the Dead isn't strictly a religious holiday. In fact, it is probably more accurate to call it a cultural holiday first and a religious holiday second. Moreover, as common in Latin America, there is the fusion of Christianity with the Indigenous religions of the Pre-Colombian peoples. So, there are both "pagan" and Christian symbolism in the holiday. Futhermore, if you had ever been in Mexico during the Day of the Dead (which is actually three days October 31-November 2) you would see that rather than this being a holiday that focuses on morbidity and the horror of the decomposing human body, you would find that death is laughed at and the decomposing body (or the skeleton to be exact) is held up as a symbol of not only sadness that comes with death but also happiness. Furthermore,during the revolution and during the Muralist movement, calavera's were a symbol of equality and revolution. And today, every child has a calavera as a toy at least once in his or her life.

Lastly, there are roughly 13-18 Pagan religions. Many of those religions borrowed elements of other religions and one, Santaria, borrows Christian elements. So the fact that Christianity has pagan influences is irrelevant if the point one wants to make is that it is "false" or a "bad" religion because of it. All this shows is that Christianity, as well as Wicca, or Islam, or Buddhism, or any other religion incorporates, one way or the other, the culture and beliefs of the other cultures around it. It is called cross-contamination in anthropology. Halloween, as it is practiced today in Modern Day U.S.A., is no more a religious holiday for Pagans or Christians or anyone else. Unless of course, Buzz Lightyear and Disney Princesses are gods or goddesses in their religion.


Amy Heeter 8 years, 3 months ago

Even if a person is going to go with the Celtic roots of the holiday ( as the blogger seems to have done) there is error in the presentation. About 2000 years ago Ireland part of England and another area ( now known as the U.K.) held a festival to celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of harvest. The days were shorter, darker and colder thus it was associated with death. The Celts belived that the dead returned on this day and that because of their ( the ghost presence) the priest ability tp prophesy was stronger. These Druids( Celtic priests) would build large bonfires so people could burn crops and sacrifce animals. The Celtic people wore aminal skins and took turns telling each others fortunes. After the Romans conquered the Celts they combined two of their festivals with Samhain. Feralia( celebrated the dead) and the festival of Pomona who was the goddess of fruit and trees. ( ever wonder why bobbing for apples is a halloween game) Then came Pope Bonifice IV who tried to replace the existing festival( both Celtic and Roman combination) with Alhallowsmas( tanslation = All Saints Day). So yes the tradition has always been to honor or celebrate the dead as Celtic, as Celtic/Roman and as the catholic celebration

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