From Rev. Jeremy Simons, Cathedral Chaplain
October 29, 2019

On Thursday this week, we celebrate Hallowe’en, loved by children because of its costumes and candy. Its origins are Catholic, celebrating the eve of All Saints Day. Here is something from Wikipedia about it:

Hallowe’en (a contraction of Hallows’ Even or Hallows’ Evening), also known as Allhalloween, All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve, is a celebration observed in several countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. It begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed.

Though the origin of the word Hallowe’en is Christian, the holiday is commonly thought to have pagan roots, … typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced SAH-win or SOW-in), which comes from the Old Irish for “summer’s end.” Samhain was seen as a time when the ‘door’ to the Otherworld opened enough for the souls of the dead, and other beings such as fairies, to come into our world. However, harmful spirits and fairies were also thought to be active at Samhain. People took steps to allay or ward-off these harmful spirits/fairies, which is thought to have influenced today’s Hallowe’en customs.”

Apparently the children parading around town in costumes are spirits or fairies, and we give them candy to welcome them or maybe keep them from harming us. The jack-o-lanterns are intended either to frighten off the evil ones or guide the good ones to our homes.

There is not much of the New Church about this holiday concept, although maybe it speaks to the reality of the angels and spirits that surround us. As we are in the middle of this year’s Journey series about angels, we might think of the children as angels coming to visit us – or maybe pray that angels surround them on their journeys around town.

Hallowe’en is an enjoyable community celebration because everyone loves seeing the children and young people, and it is one of the few times that children are able to see the homes of so many of their neighbors. The generous sharing of goodies and other things (as with “Trick or Charity”) evokes a warm community spirit.

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