One of my favorite holidays, which is not really a holiday at all, is Halloween. There are so many perceptions of this holiday that range from satanic to a celebration of those who have passed on. It is unfortunate that Halloween, much like any other commercially marketable holiday has lost it's meaning to capitalism and the retail industry. It has surprised me how popular it has become over the years. This might be due to its non religious affiliation, it is now taboo to celebrate anything that affiliates it's self with Christianity. However, it can be said that this holiday directly affiliates itself directly with Christianity even if it is unsponsored by the different sects of religion.
All Hollow's Eve, Halloween, Day of the Dead, Samhain... By whatever name it has been called, this special night preceding All Hallows day (November 1st) has been considered for centuries as one of the most magical nights of the year. A night of power, when the veil that separates our world from the "Otherworld" is at its thinnest.
As ubiquitous as Halloween celebrations are throughout the world and in the U.S. as well, few know that the true origin of Halloween is a ceremony of honoring our ancestors and the day of the dead. A time when the veils between Heaven and Earth are thinner, and so it is believed that many could "see" the other side of life. The night is one very special night and time in the year when the spiritual and material worlds touch for a moment, and a greater potential exists for magical creation. In the Celtic calendar, it was one of the most important days of the year, representing a mid point in the year, Samhain, or "summer's end". And while celebrated by the Celts, the origin of this day has connections to other cultures as well, such as Egypt
, and in Mexico
as Dia de la Muerta
, or the day of the dead. This should come as no surprise considering how advanced the Mayan cultures were when it came to the calendar, season changes, times of harvest, astronomy and mathematics. Anna and I really enjoyed Chichen-itza can you tell?
The Celts believed that the normal laws of space and time were held in abeyance during this time, allowing a special window where the spirit world could intermingle with the living. It was a night when the dead could cross the veils and return to the land of the living to celebrate with their families.
Though the beliefs are different the end result is the same, belief in an afterlife, the existence of some form of Heaven, and the importance of families. That seems pretty parallel to a certain religion that I am sure most of you are aware of. :-) As Christianity began to take hold in Europe the ancient Pagan rituals were co-opted into festivals of the Church. While the Church could not support a general feast for all the dead, it created a festival for the blessed dead, all those hallowed so, All Hallow's, was transformed into All Saints and All Souls day.
That is not to say that all religions believe in this, there are sects of Christianity that believe this day to be satanic and do not celebrate it. I say phooey, I love the magic of this night. Sinse my childhood; I have always felt a sense of magic and wonder during this time. The smell of fall in the air, pumpkins, leaves blowing on the ground. I don't necessary feel the veil is thinner, but like Christmas, there is defiantly an indiscernible magic that can be felt during this time.
Today, as mentioned above, we have lost the significance of this time of year which has turned into a candy fest with kids dressing up. Don't get me wrong, I love this practice as well, I feel that a balance can be reached, especially sense it is so much fun for the kids. Anna and I got to participate in a truck or treat at the church and had a wonderful time decorating our truck and getting dressed up. Anna has also been busy making themed cakes for friends and co-workers... I have yet to see one for husbands. :-)
The house has been overly decorated and from our understanding, our neighborhood gets a ton of trick or treaters. Much to my dismay, I just learned it is going to rain. This is another popular occurrence in the Bay Area. I know it happens more than often, and it bugs me. We are in a drought up here, and have not seen rain forever, until now... and probably wont again after the night is over. Grrrrrr