Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Halloween Weekend Wrapup

Father Martin once again had an impressive, scholarly, holy, yet simply expressed homily on Sunday for All Soul's Day. (On Purgatory! I think this is the first time since I was a kid that I've heard a homily on Purgatory!) He chanted very nicely, and much incense was breathed by all. We in the choir did a good job, too. A very nicely solemn solemnity.

However, I was much distressed by the annual dogpile on the ancient Christian festival of All Hallow's Eve. This is the kind of stuff I would expect from Puritans, not good Catholics. Catholicism is the denomination that is supposed to support holy day festivals, Carnival, and the creativity of folk art and tradition.

Furthermore, I am sick and tired of all this Wiccan- and Puritan-inspired ripping on the Irish Halloween traditions. For your information, Eire was the land of saints and scholars, universities and missionaries when the rest of Western Europe was the land of barbarian pagans. I think after fifteen hundred years or so, we can safely say that Ireland's customs are Christian, don't you?

And if you can't, I suggest you look at Mexico's extremely Christian customs of visiting the graveyard and having a picnic with lots of sugar skulls and skeletons for a memento mori, instead of all this boring, modern, made-up "let's dress up like saints" crud.

I don't demand smells and bells all the time, but a little fun and drama won't kill you! Sheesh, Jesus Himself was a pretty dramatic storyteller.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that many Halloween customs (children dressing in costumes and trick-or-treating, for example) were instituted as recently as the 1920's and 1930's. They were supposed to be a wholesome, safe, Christian alternative to having adolescent and adult males running around pulling seriously destructive pranks, shooting off guns (Detroit's "Devil's Night" still does that), and doing the odd bit of your-money-or-you're-pranked extortion wassailing. Now people have forgotten what their grandmothers did and call it ancient and pagan. For details, I suggest reading Ronald Hutton's wonderfully researched and documented book The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain. Hutton debunks a lot of this sort of thing, restoring the merry traditions instituted in late medieval, Restoration, and Victorian times to their proper places in history. (Frex, Morris dancing is far from prehistoric.)


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