like all other pre-Christian holidays, Samhain is tied to the seasons. this is roughly the halfway point between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice. the harvest would be pretty much done, and people would be preparing what they'd need to survive the winter. that's why it's the end of the Goddess' fertile cycle. and the wearing of masks, disguises, and costumes is a precaution against what might happen when this world and the Otherworld come together. specifically, at this "dying" time of the year, ghosts, walking-dead skeletons, ghouls, zombies, and other manifestations of the dead can come visit the realm of the living. they get lonely, though, and they often try to take some of the living, particularly children, back with them. so it's wise to disguise your children as ghosts and mummies, so the dead won't steal them. conversely, if a creature from the Otherworld asks you for food or other gifts, you are in great danger if you anger them by refusing. and on Samhain, you never know who might be a spirit, so it's also wise to give small treats to anyone who asks - hence the custom of "Trick or Treat". (if you don't give a spirit or other supernatural creature a "treat", it may play a "trick" on you - some kind of petty vandalism, usually.) the notion of the dead being able to visit the living is also the foundation for the Christian holiday of "All Souls".
of course, since the holiday is so closely tied to the seasons, celebrating it in October in the Southern Hemisphere is totally pointless. for you, it's Beltane (May Eve).
2007-10-31 10:27 am (UTC)
In UK if not Oz, Hallowen is celebrated by children dressing as devils in CHRISTIAN uniform of the devil and little devils and imps. Forks, false forked tongues and pitchforks. And devil tails. Even if it was pre-Christian and Pagan originally, Christians have a right to be upset with such flippant acknowledgement of the Devil and dressing up as such to mask evil behaviour.
If it is Pagan it should stay Pagan or take consequences of mixing in with 'other religions'.
People use Halloween to do all sorts of nasties and they get away with it because the police are so overstretched, and victims are affraid to retaliate with weapons or indeed in any way for fear of worse reprisals from people (the attackers) who know where victims live, but not knowing where the attackers live.
Perhap you have an easy time of it in Werrington. But here it is Vile and terrifying. Trevor
well, the "devil" imagery comes from the days when the Church decreed that all "supernatural" creatures, along with the gods and goddesses of the older religions, were all merely manifestations of their Satan and his assistants. and even "celebrating" the Devil isn't anti-Christian; by ridiculing and making sport of the Devil, people are reducing his power over them.
as for mixing pagan ways with Christianity... that accounts for almost everything, other than the core Scriptural stories, associated with Easter and Christmas. Easter eggs, rabbits, lilies, and wearing a new outfit for the first time - all solidly pagan. Christmas trees, lights, decorations, feasting, caroling, and exchanging gifts - all equally pre-Christian.
i don't condone vandalism and violence of any sort, for any reason. defacing and damaging property, bigger children terrorizing younger ones - these are no more a part of the pagan Samhain than they are of the Christian All Souls/All Saints, or the secular Halloween as it was. no matter what day of the year it is, there's simply no excuse for hooliganism.