31 October 2009

Halloween: the Real Story! Fr Augustine Thompson OP

Crossroadsinitiative.com carries an interesting and balanced article by Fr Augustine Thompson OP about the origins of Halloween and the various elements that have come to be part of it. He writes from an American standpoint.

When I was in kindergarten in a school in Stanhope Street School, Dublin, run by the Irish Sisters of Charity we learned the various customs associated with Halloween and I never associated it in any way with the devil or evil in any form. It was fun and , for some, scary. We didn't use the term 'trick or treat' but we went from house to house in our neighborhood wearing masks in the hope of getting candies, nuts or fruit.

We had certain foods associated with Halloween. My mother always served us
colcannon for dinner. It was a dish Inever really cared for. she used to put a small coin in it until one year neither my brother nor I found it and maybe one of us swallowed it! We had dinner at midday in those days.

For tea, as the lighter evening meal was called, we always had a barmbrack in which there was always a cheap wedding ring and sometimes other objects. The one who found the ring was supposed to get married soon. Nobody believed this but for children there was great excitement. After tea, when it was already dark, we'd go out with our ghoulish masks for what is now called 'trick or treat'.

Again, I never associated any of this with the devil or any such thing.

Ancre British Cemetery, France

What I also remember is that on All Souls' Day we would make many visits to the church or cemetery gaining a plenary indulgence for some poor soul in purgatory by praying six Our Fathers, six Hail Marys and Six Glory Bes before going out of the church or cemetery and going back in again, as there was only one indulgence per visit. Some would say this was legalism. I didn't see it that way nor do I now. It was remembering the dead with affection and with care, in the hope that we ourselves would be remembered in the same way eventually.

Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin

Halloween: the Real Story!
by Fr Augustine Thompson OP

We’ve all heard the allegations. Halloween is a pagan rite dating back to some pre-Christian festival among the Celtic Druids that escaped Church suppression. Even today modern pagans and witches continue to celebrate this ancient festival. If you let your kids go trick-or-treating, they will be worshiping the devil and pagan gods.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The origins of Halloween are, in fact, very Christian and rather American. Halloween falls on October 31 because of a pope, and its observances are the result of medieval Catholic piety.

Full article here.

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