Wednesday is Halloween, the holiday where children and adults dress up; often with terrifying costumes, blood and guts or axes and knives hanging out, and people all over America celebrate with parties, trick-or-treating, and visiting haunted houses. Originally Halloween is thought to have originated with the “ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts” (see: http://www.history.com/topics/halloween.) On KS95 radio, callers called in to relay stories of how they or neighbors frighten the neighborhood children on Halloween (some of the stories were truly frightening.)
I may be going out on a limb here, but why is it fun/funny to scare children, why are we celebrating axe murderers, gory costumes, and “evil”? When and why did terrifying another become acceptable and the celebration of ghosts happy? A ghost is in my belief an actual anomaly; sometimes when one’s life is tragically cut short, when one is a victim of murder, or an unplanned death, one may hang onto the past incarnation’s life energy and hover or haunt an area as a ghost. This is something that individual soul entity chooses. As a result, the ghost entity is not evolving or moving forward, but rather stagnating and sometimes frightening those among the living; really nothing to celebrate.
On the chabad.org website it is pointed out in Judaism, the similar holiday of dressing up and having a joyful time is on Purim. Children dress up as sages, princesses, heroes, clowns, etc., they drop by friends and senior centers delivering goodies (mishloach manot – gifts of food), and they spread joy and laughter. On Purim, it is customary to bring food to others rather than beg food from strangers, i.e. trick-or-treating. See: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/434666/jewish/Do-Jews-Celebrate-Halloween.htm
I ponder how we have, as a society, come to accept gory costumes, terrifying antics, and the celebration of “evil” on Halloween. I am not discouraging trick-or-treating, helping young children dress up and go out into their neighborhood as Spiderman, Snow White, Buzz Lightyear, Belle, etc. I am questioning the ethics and morals involved in the darker side of this holiday and wondering if that impacts the violence so commonplace in our society.
Interestingly, a few years ago there was a documentary called “Bowling for Columbine”, which explored why the United States of America is notorious for its astronomical number of people killed by firearms. The film was named following the horrific actions of two students who went on a shooting rampage at Columbine High school in Colorado, after spending the morning bowling. The filmmaker, Michael Moore took a deeper examination of the news media’s fear based reporting and bigotry. He suggested in this documentary that the major factor contributing to firearm abuse is a climate of fear. That being the conclusion, I question whether we really as a society want to celebrate the fearful aspects of Halloween.
Thank-you for reading.