What in the Samhain is going on around here?

It’s “All Hallow’s Eve”, or Halloween, and I’m manning the door with treats and hot cider. Since 2001 I’ve set up a fire pit in my front yard and served hot cider along with the treats to warm the kids and their parents that come by. Tonight however it’s cold and very windy, and while the idea of a fire sounds good in concept I know that in practice it would be colder than a witch’s mittens.

This year then I’ve set up in the house, but I’m still offering hot cider, which has been enthusiastically received for the most part. A couple of people have looked at me like I was some kind of weirdo for offering a hot drink, as if it might be spiked or something. Well, I guess if you have a holiday that revels in the scary and even demonic then people are right to be a little paranoid.

We didn’t have a lot to do with Halloween when our girls were little because of the occultic overtones, especially since these have seemed, to my eye, to be even more pronounced in later years. More recently however I’ve come to the conclusion that what is really being celebrated is the profit motive as Halloween has become one of the most lucrative merchandising opportunities in our culture. I’m not sure how it ranks in comparison to another emerging holiday — Super Bowl Sunday — but I know they sell more Halloween paraphernalia than they do for Thanksgiving. And at that some part of me takes a certain satisfaction in knowing that those who take the Samhain traditions and meanings seriously can now be just as offended at the commercialization of their holiday as I may be during Christmas.

For the most part, then, I’m not as concerned that people are being lured to the dark side by Trick or Treat. At least, I’m sure it doesn’t happen any more often than somebody becomes a Christian by watching “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” I know there is real darkness out there, however, even more chilling than tonight’s wind and much more destructive. I also know darkness hates the light, so I’m not going to lock the doors and turn the outside lights off while hiding in my basement tending my own little beacon. No, the darkness likes to be where the people are, and that’s where I need to be as well. I am not willing to cede an inch of ground.

So, while the girls are at Hallelujah Night at church I’ve spent the last few years stoking the fire and heating the cider and smiling at and making eye contact with each visitor, complimenting their costumes, and dispensing goodies with a liberal hand — and no one leaves without hearing a heartfelt, “God bless you.”

Update:

Hey, I even got a couple of “God bless you’s” tonight in return! A couple of people have even said they miss the fire and hope I’ll have it back next year.

We haven’t had much traffic for 30 minutes or so, and it’s been a pretty slow evening. I didn’t think a little thing like the weather could slow kids down from the annual candy crawl, but maybe people really are getting smarter. I think I can turn off the porch lights and settle down to some real work on the laptop. I know, of course, that just as soon as I get everything just so, the doorbell will ring (lights on or not).

2 thoughts on “What in the Samhain is going on around here?

  1. We started out with our children in the same type of mindset–we’re not gonna give in to this occultic practice. We did the “Harvest Festival” thing for many years. The kids got a little older and decided they wanted to go around and get candy. All right, we don’t see any harm in hitting up neighbors for some goodies. Jonathan has wanted to go in something scary the last few years. This year it was the Grim Reaper. OK, not our first choice for a costume; but OK, if you want. Bottom line—we’re trying to pick our battles. Whether he dresses up one night a year in a scary costume doesn’t mean a thing compared to his love and desire to go to youth group on Wednesday nights and his singing praise and worship songs that he learns from KTIS as he strolls around the house. I myself dressed up as Clint Eastwood yesterday; whether I was the Good, the Bad, or the Ugly was in the eye of the beholder.

  2. “And at that some part of me takes a certain satisfaction in knowing that those who take the Samhain traditions and meanings seriously can now be just as offended at the commercialization of their holiday as I may be during Christmas.”

    YES! I totally agree. This is a lovely tradition.

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