Monday, 19 November 2012

Hallowe'en & All Souls

I love the month of October. For one thing, it is my birthday month. For another, it is usually the best of autumn – the days have a crisp bite to them, the sun is still making a regular appearance, and the trees are in the height of their dying splendour. Best of all, as the golden light of October changes to the dreary gray of November, we have the holidays of Hallowe’en & All Saints/All Souls.

I love Hallowe’en – what is not to love about dressing up in a costume and reliving the spirit of childhood with one’s friends & children? I’ve never been overly concerned with its supposed ties to paganism, nor have I found the costumes particularly offensive to Christian sensibilities provided that things are all in good fun. Harvest festivals in lieu of Hallowe’en have always seemed to be much more of a pagan thing. As for celebrating Reformation Day instead of Hallowe’en, well, I frankly find that more terrifying and a much more evil holiday – a break in Christian unity is not something that should be celebrated! As for scary costumes that ape the creatures of myth, legend, and darkness – is it not better to be able to face such things through the mockery of a costume than to give them such power that we feel they must be avoided at all costs? I suppose I don’t see scary costumes and decorations as a celebration & exultation in evil, but just as an acknowledgement of the darker things of fiction & legend and breaking them of their power of fear.

I was really looking forward to celebrating Walter’s first Hallowe’en, but being in Germany for only a short while it didn’t seem prudent to splash out on decorations. Our neighbourhood is predominately Turkish and I didn’t know if trick-or-treating was even done here so it seemed silly to buy Walter a costume when we’d be spending the evening at home with no party or trick-or-treaters. So instead we had a special family celebration, watching an animated version of Ray Bradbury’s Halloween Tree (it traces the supposed history of Halloween), eating an autumn themed dinner (bbq chicken, baked potatoes, and corn on the cob), and indulging our sweet tooths (with rittersport, cola, beer, and cakes!). It was a fun little evening and next year I’m hoping that we’re in a place where I can justify buying Walter a little costume.

My slice of shoko-orangen kuchen & David's very questionable looking eclair!

An Autumn dinner

"I asked for milk and they gave me chocolate :("

Right after Hallowe’en comes the Holy Days of All Saints & All Souls, special days of remembering all those who have gone before us in the Great Pilgrimage. All Souls is always a special day for me, a day which I spend remembering departed family members and praying for them. The idea of praying for the dead, and that those in heaven can pray for us, always made sense to me once a Catholic friend explained it to me years ago. If I can ask a friend on earth to pray for me, then why is it any different to ask a friend in heaven to do the same? Praying for the dead perhaps makes less sense if you don’t believe in purgatory, but I still think that believing in the efficacy of prayer it makes sense. Speaking with God is never wasted, for even if the prayers cannot help their object surely we ourselves are helped just by taking the time to spend in reflection & communion with the Lord. I think it is important to remember family, because they are the first ones who set us on our path (for good or for ill). When Walter is old enough to understand I hope that it is a special time we can take to share stories and memories of the family members he won’t have met.

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE this post. It echoes my feelings of Halloween. Thank you for voicing it so well.