Happy Halloween

2012-11-01 18:01

Georgina Guedes

This year, Halloween was so nice, we celebrated it twice. Over the weekend, our residents’ association organised a street picnic and trick-or-treating at designated, cobweb-adorned houses in our suburb. And last night we joined up with a group of our friends at the massive Parkview Halloween festival in the George Hay Park.

Everyone got into the spirit of things by wearing fancy costumes and putting on a good show for the local kids. My children enjoyed themselves thoroughly - owing in equal measure to the fancy dress and sweets, and not one but three churning jumping castles in the park.

At our local event, I heard some comments from one of the other mums about a friend of hers who refused to participate in Halloween because it’s a pagan festival. I also read an article the week before by a mother who feels the same way.

I was surprised by these viewpoints, because as far as I can tell, Halloween is only celebrated as a bit of fun for the kids - and even though it has its pagan roots, no one’s really worshiping a pagan god or renouncing their own religion by knocking on their neighbour’s doors dressed as a pumpkin and demanding sweets.

In fact, some pagans I know are quite offended by the commercial nonsense of how the Americans - and now South Africans too - celebrate what they consider to be an important event in their religious calendar.

Those who feel that it’s somehow wrong to be celebrating a pagan festival should also abstain from buying Easter eggs and maintaining the myth of the Easter bunny, because those rituals have pagan roots.

And as for sending Christmas cards featuring Santa dressed in red with white trim - that tradition has its roots in a Coca-Cola advertising campaign. And Father Christmas himself is a characterisation of a saint - a religious figure that non-Catholic religions don’t recognise.

I’m not saying that the religious among us should throw up their hands and admit defeat, but I do think that there’s no harm in letting children run riot in the neighbourhood streets dressed up as ghouls and witches. This is far removed from any form of pagan worship.

In fact, what I found particularly cheering about the two Halloween shindigs I attended was that it’s so unrelated to any religion that it unifies a wide range of cultures. My trick-or-treating daughter, bedecked in velvet pointed hat and witch’s bodice, ran helter-skelter down our streets shoulder-to-shoulder with Muslim, Christian, Jewish, black, brown and white neighbours.

And because no parent in modern South Africa would let their little ones roam freely in the streets, the parents were out in force. I found the whole experience built community spirit and broke down barriers. I was delighted to let my children join in the fun, and I certainly will be doing so next year as well.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

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  • mike.bundy.73 - 2012-11-01 21:45

    I agree with most of this - I think that Halloween can be a lot of fun for all ages and creeds if the religious aspect is ignored. Point of fact though - the myth that Coca Cola "invented" the red-clad Santa is pure fabrication, and good advertising from them to maintain this. It's just an urban legend, Santas in red clothing were depicted in artistic form long before Coke did it.

  • charlesdumbwin.dumbwin - 2012-11-02 11:54

    I disagree, Georgina. Don't want my children associating with the pagan and Satanic rituals that happen that night each year on the 31 October. Each to his own, but not for me or my family thanks.

      Lucyfire - 2012-11-02 13:59

      How bout Easter and Christmas? Do your kids get eggs and presents? December 25th is the day of Isis. Celebrated long before Christianity. Those are also based on pagan holidays. In fact, A LOT of the christian traditions are based on pagan traditions. Drinking the blood of Christ every sunday? Now that's just weird. Don't want my kid to be associated with that.

      johan.nortje3 - 2012-11-04 00:17

      Just to het a couple of things straight, Halloween isn't all that Pagan. In fact, as Pagan, I don't celebrate Halloween. 31 October in the Southern Hemisphere is called Beltane. We celebrate Samhain (or Halloween as you call it) in May. Christmas is also a renowned Pagan holiday. It's the rebirth of the Roman sun god, thus chosen for the birth of Christ by the Romans when they established the Roman Catholic Church. I's sad how little people know about their faiths, especially Christians/Catholics. Here's hoping you had a good Beltane. Blessed be God/dess bless...

      Havokreeka - 2012-11-05 08:37

      Charles, you are aware Christmas is a holiday with Pagan origins? Most of Christian holidays have pagan roots, when Christianity was accepted by the Roman Empire, Constantine made sure all Pagan holidays became Christian holidays. To help smooth things over with the Pagans. (Because they out numbered the Christians)

  • hannah.p.mostert - 2012-11-04 08:05

    I think it's fun and I'm not religious so I don't see devils and gods and other made up things, the kids love it and they don't see all the "evil" stuff that religious people do

      munashe.jani - 2012-11-04 09:50

      Blinded in the name of fun.

      Havokreeka - 2012-11-05 08:38

      Munashe, you're blinded by a childish belief system. At least people don't kill each other in the name of fun.

  • Havokreeka - 2012-11-05 08:43

    Georgina, it's purely because Christians (Muslims too) are absolutely insane. No one wants to admit it, but all the non-religious people know it. Most just try not to rub it in their faces, I however have no problem voicing my opinion of their lunacy. I mean, just look at Charles Dumbwin. Thinking like that cannot be healthy.

  • wayne.strydom - 2012-11-05 17:13

    Interesting article Georgina, but your kids may look cute as pumpkins now, but what about then they are teenagers and want to end the evening with a seance or an ouiga board session? Santa and EB may be pagan, but they are fairly tame compared to the things that go with this particular "celebration". Kids are lured by the innocence of Halloween, but as they grow older they delve deeper. I call it the "frog in the pot" syndrome. Are you going to take the chance of having your child possibly boiled"?

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