Halloween and All Saint’s Day.
Three years ago today, I wrote this post on Facebook and I post it each year and it really gets a conversation going. I share with you as I think of my father, and all the Saints.
Can I tell you how much I “hate” Halloween? AGGGGHHHHH………
Whether it is the uber Christians saying it is all about the devil, or it is the candy, or it is the ridiculous plastic table cloth outfits, I can’t stand any of it. It gets on my nerves!
In my mind, it represents the best of American consumerism and superficiality and absurdity.
Yet, I love that kids love it. I love innovative costumes – not the ones bought at the party store. But those that are made by hand or with thought and creativity.
I have never figured out what “trick or treat” means. It is one of those Americanisms that reminds me that I am very much a foreigner. I just don’t get all the hullabaloo, jack-o-lanterns, et. al.
The other night, in my amazing neighborhood, it sounded like gunshots at 2 in the morning. Turns out it was the Diwali festival. I felt joy. I felt I had “missed out.” I felt happy that folks could celebrate their traditions as they lived far away from home.
But I don’t have the same sentiment for Halloween.
Maybe it is because it is a rainy day, maybe it is the fires in California, maybe it is because of bombings, subpoenas, impeachments and all that other hullabaloo. Maybe. Maybe it is because I have a friend going through a really difficult period. Maybe it is because an American University student got dragged by campus police and I cannot fathom that this happened at the same school where the Ibram X. Kendi teaches, maybe.
History.com says, “Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago, mostly in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1.
This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.
In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort during the long, dark winter.
With Christianity, it merged with All Saints Day.
How we forget that it is a time to commemorate All Saint’s Day, really, All Ancestor’s Day, Día de Muertos – Day of the Dead.
The point is that it is a “thin” day. It is a time when there is a “blurriness” between the worlds of the living and the dead. It is a time to discern the going ons beyond what we can see, beyond what is tangible. And I guess that is why it kinda gets on my nerves.
I know I am being critical, and I apologize. But at a time when we should be sober and sensitive, and celebrate a great harvest, we Americanize it with candy and cheap costumes and end up trivializing the important parts.
I just feel sad about it all. And yesterday was my Daddy’s birthday and he has been gone now for 16 years. I still sense his presence. I miss him. I experience the “thinness.”
Please, eat candy, knock on doors, wear the most ridiculous costumes, have fun. Play. Laugh at others. Pay pranks. Live. And let the kids have an absolute blast. This is an act of resistance. To have fun and live fully in the midst of all sorts of foolishness. Life, indeed, is for the living and I am in full support of living it up, however you see fit.
And please, remember your loved ones who are gone. Take one second to encounter the “thin” space. May our ancestors meet us in those “thin” places and help our intentions for what we want to see in the world.