Wednesday, October 21, 2009

All Saints Eve

I wonder if the people who complain about creches on public lawns and Christmas greetings from cashiers are the same people who cover their lawns with styrofoam grave stones and plastic ghouls. Would they be offended by a giant inflatable jack-o-lantern in front of City Hall?

I only ask because of all the holidays Halloween is the hardest to explain to my kids. Sure, we play along because costumes and candy are fun. Honestly, we find any excuse we can to get into costumes the whole year round. But explaining the made-in-Taiwan gore-fest that some people put on is just beyond me.

We're Christians, so explaining all the trappings of our religion's holy days is easy. The patriotic holidays are a snap too. I really love all the harvest type decorations that people put out. Corn stalks, pumpkins, gourds, the occasional jolly scarecrow, all these things speak of the joy of the season. But when my three-year-old stops dead in his tracks, shuffles real close to me and grabs my hand because there's a bloody skeleton crawling out of my neighbor's flower bed... I'm at a loss to explain that shit.

"Well you see son, once upon a time there were pagan holidays that involved carving turnips into scary faces to scare off all the evil spirits. After a while the Church created All Saints Day to balance things out, but it didn't really work so well. People are a superstitious lot and even though they go to church on Sunday it still pays to placate any evil spirits that might be roaming the neighborhood on a frosty autumn evening. Story tellers of old would scare the villagers with chilling tales of ghosts and goblins. With the advent of cheap printing these stories continued to circulate widely and eventually transformed into the gore genre of cinema in the 1950s. Americans maintain a fascination with the occult and are happy to bring it on home from Wal-Mart. Even though most people don't have any concept of what evil really is, who the Devil is, or anything to do at all with spiritual beings like angels or demons, they're happy to participate in a holiday that involves costumes and candy."


So just ignore that creepy dead guy with his bony hand scrabbling at the edge of the sidewalk and concentrate on that big, fluffy pumpkin in the next yard. Maybe if you think about that big, happy jack-0-lantern I won't have to hold you in the dark for an hour later on because you had a bad dream about the living dead coming for you from out of the hardy mums.

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7 comments:

Pamela said...

those people live across the street from your parents.
i cannot convince the children that they are not bad people. they won't have it.

Irish Gumbo said...

Very well said, Mister! I can't say I'm aces when it comes to explaining halloween or religious holidays, but I do know that what you describe is a prime example of what happens when mass culture takes things out of their context and forgets where things really came from. Bravo, my man.

Middle Aged Woman said...

I think of Halloween like a giant Boggart (Harry Potter reference). If you make fun of something that's scary, it's not so scary anymore. Plus, candy, dude.

thecheekofgod said...

I remember, back when I was a hard-core evangelical Christian, trying to explain to my kids that it made more sense to go the church and get candy out of Sister So-And-So's trunk than do dress up and go door to door. I never did come up with a good one . . .

Angie Ledbetter said...

Irish Gumbo sent me. Nice post and blog.

Noticed how Christmas and other Christian holidays have been quashed in the public eye and Halloween gets bigger and bigger in the last 20+ years? (Decorations went out in August at some stores!) A diabolical Apocolyptic plot for a good novel.

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

I'm all for pumpkins and candy but when you've scared the crap out of my three year and she spends the enxt four nights huddled in bed with me afraid somethings going to get her - well I take issue with that.

ChurchPunkMom said...

well said, my friend. well said. :)