Halloween: Battle Between Church and State
Growing up in a fairly religious household, I was never allowed to trick or treat. I never got to dress up as a ghost, goblin, or display any type of cute themed cartoon— the innocent ones like Winnie the Pooh or Mighty Morphing Power Rangers (The originals). Unlike my story, most little kids growing up in the 90’s saw Halloween as fun. To me, it meant spending another day of the week in church, which had potential for fun, but not really the same experience as other kids my age. I can remember my grandmother tearing old linen sheets apart, as she created multi-colored robes to dress me and my brother up as what was suppose to be “two out of the three wise men in the bible.” I can’t exactly say those were “good times” but I do recognize that my parents made an active effort to keep us away from what they thought to be this “devil holiday.”
This year, On my 19th Halloween I will be (for the first time) dressing up in a costume. (I know, I know, but better late than never right?)
However, just because I have been liberated from the conservatism of my family’s tradition, does not mean that this personal act is an accurate depiction of religious sects in our country. It’s actually quite the contrary.
The question is now surfacing, is “Halloween off limits in public schools?” Do Ghost, Witches, and Jackolanterns created in a 3rd grade art classes and displayed in elementary school hallways violate a separation of church and state? I believe the answer to be “of course not,” but that doesn’t stop many of these children’s parents across the country from accusing various public schools and libraries of “preaching witchcraft, promoting Satanism and leading children down the path of spiritual darkness.” This controversy finds it home from the consistent popularity of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. One would think that we would be happy that children are reading. We would rejoice that words in books are still keeping a new technology driven generation interested—even when books have to compete with high-def television, state of the art lap tops, and $500 blue chip video games. A school district in Texas requires parental permission before children may read J.K. Rowling’s books.
I take hope in the competence of our Supreme Court. In the past they have made the right decisions in cases like these. So hopefully we have nothing to worry about. The Supreme Court put in motion about three decades ago that “schools may not adopt policies which either advance or inhibit a specific faith, or religion in general.” Claims that “Harry Potter” or “Halloween” advances Satanism have not convinced the court system. And I personally would call the initial accusations, ridiculous.
What really entertained me about this situation was finding out that Christmas (and the process of decorating and posting up a tree) is more of a pagan holiday than Halloween. Now here is irony, this is a paragraph I pulled from the History Channels Website, about the Origins of Halloween.
“By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints’ Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.”
Now isn’t that interesting, maybe if these parents would read up on the origins of Halloween, they wouldn’t be trying to take an innocent and fun holiday out of proportion.