All Saints Day

“Hallowe’en has an undercurrent of occultism and is absolutely anti-Christian.”

From L’Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper, 10/30/09

Hey, Vatican, this is sounding a little desperate. It’s 2009, and you’ve been fighting this battle for how many years now?

The whole problem started way back in the seventh century, when Pope Boniface made up All Saints Day and laid it on top of the Lemuria, those three days in May when the Romans had been busy exorcising ghosts from their homes. That worked pretty well, and people forgot all about those lemures (the fall of the Roman Empire helped quite a bit).

Meanwhile Samhein, that other anti-Christian holiday, was becoming a real problem. It too lasted three days, and people were doing all kinds of pagan things like “dressing up as ghosts and ghouls.” To fix this, Pope Gregory decided to move all those hallowed saints from May to November, turning Samhein into All Hallows Eve. At least he gets credit for the name change.

The Church was also having a problem with that old Aztec festival, the Day of the Dead, where people were doing sacrilegious things like putting skulls on altars and worshipping a goddess. So they moved it from August to the beginning of November, hoping All Saints and All Souls Days would take care of it.

Well, Halloween is spreading, and Latinos are still making wonderful altars. What to do?

Maybe give it up? Let people celebrate what they want, when they want? WWJD?*

*for my true-atheist friend, who didn’t know what this meant the last time I left it unreferenced: “What Would Jesus Do?”

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