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The Pagan Version of Halloween Was Better

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Posted on : 12:13 PM | By : Nic | In : , ,

 The other day we did our Halloween shopping, mostly just going to the Value Village to find costumes.  It's a family tradition to have good costumes, and it's always been more about the fun of dressing up than getting the candy.  I've been the good witch Glenda, a gypsy, a blue super hero, a dark princess, a hippie, a mime... all typical things but all with real stuff.  The best costume I ever had was in kindergarten. My mom collected antique clothes and because they shrink with time, it didn't take much modification to make an 1800's red ladies riding dress fit me.  To top it off, an original pillbox hat with a lace veil.  This year we found some high quality animal suits, an elephant for Autumn, a white tiger for Annie and with some face painting they'll be warm enough to get a good haul, lol.  


What bothers me about shopping for Halloween items is the array of grotesque, ugly dead-looking things.  I'm not sure what an undead or decaying bug-eyed old man has to do with Halloween.  How did this holiday get associated with murder, or cursed mummies?  Today for a school project we looked into the history of Halloween, and Annie dictated a little essay about it, which I am not unfamiliar with, but it reminded me of how friendly and gentle the original pagan Halloween was.  

Samhain was originally a day to celebrate a time when people believed the world of the dead grew a little closer to the day of the living.  They dressed up as animals and other disguises and threw gifts into the bonfire for the gods.  They looked back at their ancestors and appreciated them, and the priests gave prophecies of the future.  After partying late into the night, they celebrated the New Year, which was the next day.  The whole thing had nothing to do with scaring our socks off with bogeymen and criminals, nobody had pretend knives going through their heads.  It was kind of a more like a harvest festival.  

I often read complaints about our holidays having too many pagan influences, and it's true, all the holidays we celebrate are pagan.  But often what disturbs me more is how we've twisted the original version into a grotesque and commercialized, and in the case of Halloween, violent rip-off of what used to be a family-centered celebration of gratitude for something.

So here are some tips for this winter's holiday season:
1. Rather than buying something necessary for the holiday, make it.  Make your Halloween costumes, your gingerbread men, your popcorn strings.  Many people rush around during the holidays in frenzied buying sprees, but if you take a breath to make something you can find your center.
2.  By the same token, don't go crazy trying to make everything for everyone.  If your goal is to make 20,000 cookies for all 500 of your neighbors, that's just ridiculous.  If you must buy it in order to keep your sanity, then do.  If you don't have time to make a pie, don't worry about it.  Family is more important.
3.  There's nothing wrong with sweets, but there is with too much sweets.  Every holiday activity seems to revolve around the candy and treats.  When you spend time making stuff and holiday rituals, you can make it revolve around traditions instead.  Ration the treats, but not the togetherness.
4.  Stay away from Black Friday.  Many people that I know are buying or making handmade gifts, or giving away charitable gifts to third-world countries.  It's fun to go to the mall and get in on the Christmas fun, but don't get sucked into the consumerism of it.  
5.  Get inspired by the old ways.  Get some books of traditions such as my favorites, Mrs. Sharp's Traditions, or A Time to Keep. Or look even deeper into the really old ways (Google is great for that).  Keep alive the traditions of your own family, and even of the cultures that your ancestors came from.  
6.  Make a fire.  Every culture seems to have a tradition of gathering around the fire (and now with the invention of hot chocolate and marshmallows this is even better).  Find a way to gather around a bonfire at least once this holiday season.

Happy Halloween!

Comments (1)

Great tips! I love Mrs. Sharp's traditions. Hope to do the St. Lucia Day one this year.

Love your blog!
Katy