Saturday, October 16, 2004

the day of the (brain)dead

It seems some God Fearing Christians are getting their panties in a bunch (hell, I could just end the sentence right there, couldn't I?) because Halloween falls on a Sunday this year.

"You just don't do it on Sunday," said Sandra Hulsey of Greenville, Ga. "That's Christ's day. You go to church on Sunday, you don't go out and celebrate the devil."

There are so many things wrong in that short statement that I don't even know where to start.

The Uptight Right want the holiday moved to Saturday. That'll solve the whole problem. Apparently they feel it's fine to go out and celebrate the Devil on Saturday.

Given that the vast majority of Christians in general and American Christians in particular have zero fucking clue (hrmmm, another good place to end a sentence) about the context of their own holidays, I guess it's unreasonable to expect them to understand the context of holidays they don't feel are theirs, which is nonetheless pretty fucked up since modern-day Halloween is the remnants of Hallowmas, which has been a Christian tradition for over a thousand years.

The word 'Hallow' means 'sanctify', as in 'the hallowed halls'. Halloween is the evening before All Saints Day, which in turn is followed by All Souls Day. As with every other main Christian holiday, the existing version of Halloween is derived from holidays that were practiced by cultures that have been subsumed by Christianity - in this case, it was the Celtic holiday Samhain and the Roman holiday Feralia, both of which honored the souls of the dead sometime in the fall.

Most cultures have had a version of this holiday, and in most cases it was a positive event, a time to honor and remember the dead, whose souls were considered to be present. Of course, if you'd wronged someone you might have reason to be fearful of the dead - and over time, as the church became more concerned with guilt and punishment than with anything positive, this aspect of the holiday took precedence over the original intention. You've got to wonder about people who claim to be focused on 'God' and 'good' yet see evil everywhere they look.

It amazes me how much 'evil' is projected by people who consider themselves to be righteous. I once thought that the church was its own worst enemy, but now I realize that they need the existence of an extreme negative to justify their own (really quite absurd if you think about it) extreme positions. It's a self-maintaining fear-and-stupidity-generating machine.