Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mystagogy on Halloween

Here's an excerpt from the blog Mystagogy on Halloween. This is the month where Orthodox Christians debate the merits and dangers of the day of trick or treating.

Ok, I think you get the picture how many Orthodox Christians unfortunately view Halloween. What is unfortunate is that they base their beliefs on a bunch of distorted information that have no basis in fact. If it does, I challenge anyone to present the historical evidence that Halloween is indeed an ancient pagan festival that was celebrated by sacrifices of humans to Satan (Samhain) and honored demons with treats. And these are only a few of the many distortions popularized in the "christian" tracts of fundamentalists and of multimillionaire publisher Jack Chick.

This smear campaign against Halloween, in which it has been scapegoated among Christians as the ultimate manifestation of secularism and satanism in contemporary culture, only goes back to farely recent modern times when certain Christian groups resorted to any fanciful tale to counter the emerging counter-culture of the 60's and 70's that was corrupting the youth. Christian leaders since then have clutched us in a guilt trip ever since about a holiday which prior to this extreme reaction was indeed harmless for the most part like any other holiday and had no connection with satanic rituals. It was a cultural festival which, though mischievous at times, really posed no threat to society until we were forced to believe that it did.

The fact is that I also once opposed Halloween for religious reasons, being convinced by fundamentalist literature that it was the "devil's holiday", a conspiracy of Neopagans and Satanists to corrupt our youth. Later when I researched the background of the holiday I came to different conclusions. I realized in the impurity and evil of my egotistical heart I was choosing a much easier enemy to fight rather than the much more difficult enemy within, the enemy of my ego which easily saw scandal elsewhere rather than in the impurity and scandal within my own heart and mind.

As a child born and raised in Boston, Halloween was one of my favorite holidays like the majority of American youth. It was a fun and innocent time to watch Halloween specials on TV like It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and maybe play with my fright-meter with some mild horror films, to carve pumpkins and eat the toasted seeds, to order an extra batch of Scholastic books in school dealing with stories of the holiday, to dress up like a favorite cartoon or pop culture character, to have a Halloween party at school with candy, to color pictures of witches and vampires and ghosts which are a part of the folk-lore surrounding the holiday taming children's deep-seated fears of them, to go trick or treating around the neighborhood giving us the one chance in the year to actually meet our neighbors and receive a friendly gesture of candy, and when we got home we would eat our candy after they were carefully checked by parents. I was a child of the 1980's, so the initial signs of fear about the holiday which started in the 1960's were beginning to spread at the time also. Rumors were circulating that razor blades were being placed in apples and poison in candy by evil neighbors trying to harm us. Of course, none of these reports were actually traced and this was the first myth I was exposed to about Halloween that had no basis in reality. When people realized that such crimes were never reported, they still checked "just in case", since now the media gave crazy people an idea of how to get media coverage by harming a child on Halloween. In fact, this is exactly what the rumors did in a few not too serious cases. The innocence and fun was slowly but surely being lost...

Complete post here.


  1. Wonderful post - very thoughtful. As one who likes to get to the beginnings of things I greatly appreciated it.
    And oh... Happy "Eve of All Saints' Day (Allhallows)!"
    Please be sure to enter my GIVE-A-WAY

  2. I oppose Halloween on religious grounds. The Mystagogy article makes the rounds every year -- still unpersuasively. Still waiting for his "proofs" that the festival was benign. There are Orthodox Christian articles to contradict him, not solely Protestant assertions.

    I grew up in Houston where, in the 1960s, there were, indeed, occasional occurrences of poisons and razor blades placed in candy. Published police reports are not rumour.