Jon Kennedy
Jon Kennedy

Jon Kennedy's 'Postcards from
the Nanty Glo in My Mind'


Though I had the impression that all of my views about Halloween have been published on the Nanty Glo Home Page site, I was surprised to find via a survey of the Jonals back to their beginning no essay specifically on the topic. I've been asked to weigh in on the discussion of Halloween on the eforum list, so will try to concisely summarize reflections scattered around on other pages.

As a child, I looked forward to Halloween as a time of much fun, as described on the memoir here, one of the earliest essays added to the Home Page. At that time we knew no one around Belsano who disapproved of Halloween in general, though at that time tricks of considerable mischief (perpetrated, we surmised, by boys who at the time were considered "too old to go Halloweening," which would have been over 12—it was a much different time)...such "tricks" were part of every year's revels. Those ranged from soaping windows (car windows being far more serious than house ones) to pushing over outhouses (toilets, which were more common at the time than indoor bathrooms). The schools used Halloween much as they did Christmas to focus the children's attention in subjects ranging from reading to art.

Though it was known that Halloween could be traced to the Druids (and probably popularized in America more than anywhere else in the world by Irish immigrants who had kept the Druid legends alive) we knew of no one who took Halloween seriously as a time for "real" witchery or invoking the devil or evil spirits. It wasn't until years later, as a minister in a very conservative Presbyterian denomination, that I encountered some more Puritanical believers than I who looked on Halloween as evil and dangerous.

I was never convinced, and though I have more lately also met some Eastern Orthodox teachers who similarly disdain the observance, I still am not. This is because on the whole our culture does not take seriously the alleged dark side of Halloween. It is a day for children to role-play, to have fun and collect candy, and for residents in neighborhoods from Maine to California to become more hospitable and attentive to children than at any other time of year. I don't take this general observance of Halloween as seriously as I do, for example, the occult side of Freemasonry, a network of secret societies that conduct rituals and take vows that are counter-biblical and against church teaching. No one in normal society takes a vow for Halloween; the role is played for only a few hours, and neither the players or their benefactors take it as anything than harmless fun.

There is a movement to make more of Halloween than it is, both from its supporters and its opponents. Feminist witches "covens" and satanists, we are told, want to claim and tame the day as their own. But society in general will have none of this. Halloween doesn't "belong" to anyone, unless it's children in general. We should keep watch, but so long as this remains the case, we should leave Halloween and the children who enjoy it, alone. And it's a good idea to include a salvation tract, or "pointers to the kingdom," with the treats, in my opinion.

Last Christmas, I wrote a long series of Jonal entries responding to those who believe Christmas shouldn't be celebrated because of its overlapping with pagan winter solstice festivals. I showed that there was no evidence of evil intentions or purposes in "Christianizing" pagan practices and days, and even on the most superficial level, it was inevitable that if the pagans gave everyone a day off to celebrate, why would the Christians not celebrate a Christ-event instead of the pagan one on such a day? And if and when Christians became dominant in the culture, why would their celebrations not eclipse the pagans' ones? It's a big lie that the church syncretized ("blended") its festivals with non-Christian ones. I've never seen a more succinct declaration of this lie than this, which came to the eforum as part of a a long tract one member sent out:

Long ago, the festivals of the Messiah were changed into Church "holy days" (holidays). The changes began with Constantine (around the year A.D. 325), when Christianity and Paganism united. It was his efforts to appease the masses. A unification, of sorts, that united all people of various backgrounds and beliefs into one system that appeared to make everyone happy. The Christians were no longer persecuted but accepted, the Jews tolerated but ignored, and the Pagans? Well, they had their god(s), too, and so, in the name of peace, followed the blending of all types of beliefs, religions, philosophies, and cultures into one harmonious union that was intended for the good of all.

This is untrue from beginning to end; Constantine did not control the church or change its calendar, Christianity was never united with paganism, nor did the convert Constantine evidence any motive to undermine true Christianity, as any serious study of church history and Roman Empire history abundantly attests.

Halloween is not a Christian festival, nor does it fall on or even near the fall equinox. It is called Halloween as an anglicization of "all hallows e'ven (evening)" as it falls the day before the Latin church's all-saints day. However, the Eastern Church does not have its all-saints festival at this time of year, and most Protestants have no such day. The Irish likely mixed together the Latin all-hallows eve and the Druidic legends.

I'm a strong advocate, however, of the principle that for the believer in Christ, all we do and have are to be presented to Him and used for His kingdom. And in that spirit, what is more Christian-redemptive than having a day in which we look the images of death—ghosts and ghouls—in the eye and laugh at death which our Savior conquered? This is, I believe, a Christian-redemptive understanding and reworking of Halloween.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

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