Halloween is one of those odd liturgical days. It is sort of Christian and sort of pagan. The Christians can claim the day as the eve of all hallows day, also known as all saints day. It also has many pagan roots, and many are from the ancient paganism of the Roman Empire. Today though the day is often commandeered by the neo-pagan witches that are so common in these woods. For them this is the biggest day of their calendar year. Years ago it also was a big day for kids, something for them to eagerly look forward to. I think today though the parents have taken this day for themselves. For the kids, there is no longer running around the neighborhood trying to fill their sack to the brim with treats. Instead they are ushered to a safe zone for more structured activities. Oh, I understand the reason and it is a good though sad one; but that charm of the day has been lost. The Halloween I see for kids today is what I think of as the responsible secular day of entertainment. For this modern day it is about the costume, the candy, and the adult parties. For the witches, it is about grown up witch stuff I know nothing about. I assume though they take it quite seriously.
Gone though is All Hallows Eve, the eve of all saints day and all souls day that follows. In days long ago, this kids Halloween was always connected with the liturgical observances of all saints and all souls day. With those masses, that somewhat costumed celebration had meaning. Life, death, good evil, trickery, deception, masks, all reflected something real about life. Wandering house to house they were not given much thought; it was the church service that always brought reason to the customs of Halloween. It was the church service that reminded us that the day was not just a party simply for enjoyment. That was the old Halloween. The new day is that safe day, void of meaning, orchestrated by responsible secular adults, and propagated by the desire of merchants.
Perhaps it might be wise for responsible adults to give kids back their day, to reacquaint them with the history and customs of a true Halloween. That true Halloween still involves costumes and candy, but it also involves the Masses of All Saints and All Souls day. It also involves a bit of the history of those customs, and perhaps even a little bit of the history of some saints. The tradition of this day is too rich for some poor kid, dressed like a fool, to be dragged to a shopping mall so that they can collect some new age health conscious “treat.” Halloween is an important day, and it is a day rich in tradition and meaning; wouldn’t it be better to give a kid that rather than another granola bar? Trick or treat.