Friday, October 26, 2012

The Hallow Times

Hallow:  To make or consider holy or sacred

The Hallowtide Days are coming.  For those unfamiliar with this term it is simply what we call Halloween (or All Hallows), All Saints Day and All Souls Day; a three day period of sacred days that call us to reflection life and death.

Celebrating holidays other than Halloween is rather new to me, but I jump at the idea of finding more holidays to celebrate that don't revolve around presents and sugar and give my family the chance to reflect on particular idea or themes throughout the year.  

Our Halloween will look very much like the typical Halloween, in all it's secular glory.  I love having a day that is about dress-up and just having some great fun.  I think it's a great opportunity to get outside with friends and family one last time before winter sets in - here in Iowa it's all too common to get snow the next day (go here to read a post from last years reflection on Halloween).  I think it's great to encourage kids to face things that are frightening.  I believe in encouraging imagination and pretend play because I think it opens the mind to accepting the miraculous, mysterious and almost unknowable Truths in the world.  We will be wearing costumes, going door to door, collecting and giving out candy just like so many others (most of that candy will be pawned off on co-workers the next day).  We will have jack-o-lanterns and decorations, because I really do love this little holiday. 

Religiously speaking All Hallow's Eve is supposed to be a time of reflection, to prepare yourself for the two days following and it will be, but who's to say that sometimes you can't have quite a bit of fun at the wake before the funeral. 

The following days are All Saints and All Souls.  All Saints is a day we're pretty much told that we need to make it to Mass and luckily our parish has an evening Mass so we'll be making a special effort to go.  In fact, it will be my first All Saints Mass and I'm quite curious to find out what it's all about.  It's also said that going to a cemetery and praying helps the souls in purgatory.  Not to sound to macabre, but I plan on taking Henry for a short visit to the grave of a dear friend of mine lost when we were only 13.  He was Catholic and I feel like he'd appreciate the gesture.  These are days to reflect on those we have lost, but it should end with a feeling of hope not hopelessness.  These are days to reflect on those who are gone from us, but have been given a great reward or to pray for those who might still be seeking that reward in this life or the next.

These days, while a little morbid in their subject matter, are not meant to be gloomy or frightening.  Rather it is a chance to face the reality of life and death and to reflect on any beliefs or practices that give us hope in the face of such a finite occasion.  It is a time to reflect on the good in the lives of those near to us and those we might learn about.

The Hallowtide days are great way to reflect and remember.  A perfect time to pull out photo albums and family videos.  To take down favorite recipes or make a toast.  It is a time to face our fears, remember those we love and reflect on what is to come.


5 comments:

  1. what a beautiful post. i find at this time of year i tend to think more often of my beloved grandparents, and i think because i think of them so often i also dream about them more this time of year. i like celebrating day of the dead, focusing on lost loved ones, remembering their awesomeness, and serving things they loved to eat. it is a time to face death, and see it as not so terrifying.

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  2. Interesting. I've always wondered what the Catholic approach was to Halloween, since Evangelicals tend to think of the holiday as very evil. Evangelicals who let their kids dress up and go trick-or-treating are looked down on, and churches offer "Halloween alternatives" to discourage participation in the evil going on outside. (But maybe you're already totally familiar with all this?). But all my Catholic friends online are always dressing up and having fun and I'm always feeling a little jealous.

    I personally and secretly like the holiday, with the dressing up and going outside and connecting with the community; my biggest objection is just the candy. But since I don't have a community that celebrates Halloween, I just haven't had anything to do with the holiday since I graduated from elementary school. It's kind of a bummer. We just turn out the lights on Halloween night and nobody bothers us.

    I like the idea of taking a few days to reflect on life, death, and life-after-death. Very interesting indeed.

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    1. Oh trust me I've seen plenty of Catholic sites rage against Halloween, so I don't think the evangelicals are alone. The thing that gets me about the argument against Halloween are the "pagan" influences. I think it's strange that we attempt to deny that people searched for God in a pre-Christian society, and if we accept anything about that deny that they could have been on the right track with some of their ideas (I could go on, but I'll leave it at that). Now, if you have a child who uses Halloween as a gateway to explore the darker side of any religion then yep, I think you have a right to step in and tone it down, but there are so many ways to "reclaim" Halloween without banishing it from our repertoire completely!

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  3. Very nice Molly. I like the idea of making All Souls Day a bigger deal. We never really did anything for it growing up except maybe Day of the Dead stuff in Spanish Class. Having your kids remember their ancestors that have died seems like such an important thing to take the time to do. My sister's kids school always dress up for All Saints Day at school which I think is such a great and fun tradition (although apparently a lot of extra work coming up with two costumes). I get frustrated when Catholic's think they should ignore Halloween. I think all three days have there place as long as people give them their proper due and don't celebrate them in an inappropriate way. I know people who throw All Saints Day Parties on Halloween which actually seems inappropriate to me. They should take each day for what it is and don't let one take over the other. I always enjoy your insights. Why do you have to live so far away so we can only be internet friends?

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    1. I've seen your sister's kids All Saints Day costumes before and that ones of the reasons I kind of hope we end up doing Catholic elementary (is that kind of sad?) I'm really interested to see how these ideas form as my kids get older.

      And also, ditto ;)

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