Oops! Did I offend you with my Halloween?
In this age of political correctness, it’s hard not to offend someone. Almost every day you read about some actor, public figure or politician who said or did something that “offended” some group (some of these are more radical and aggressive in their response than others).
A few years ago a friend of mine sent me an e-mail, copying our circle of common acquaintances, about the Christian vision of Halloween as a Satanic celebration, and why, according to them, decorating your house for the holiday is a way of inviting evil into your home.
Whoo, boy, do we decorate our house.
Halloween has always been a big deal for me, and that message I received was questioning that (in a friendly way, I have to admit). I did not feel offended or attacked in the least (frankly, I couldn’t care less). I’m always open to all points of view… however it did make me curious.
Years ago I did my research about the origins of Halloween and discovered it’s a mish-mash of various beliefs and customs (you can read the book or see the made-for-TV-cartoon movie “The Halloween Tree” by Ray Bradbury to get a simplified version of this). In the end I concluded that it began as a celebration of the change of Seasons, and this has also been linked to the ways we face death, the unknown, the afterlife, the supernatural and all things that scare us throughout different cultures (yes, there are some ghastly acts in its history too, but isn’t that true about most aspects of culture, especially when there’s religion involved? The Inquisition, the Salem witch trials and public stonings, anyone?).
It’s also a great pretext to have fun with the kids, friends and enjoy all sorts of goodies and social gatherings. To dress up in disguises and pretend we are someone or something else, to have fun getting spooked. I think it’s a way of helping people cope with some of the things they don’t understand or fear. And I can see how that can be troubling for those who feel their particular religion is the right and only vessel to deal with these issues. Some of us don’t.
We also need to understand symbols have the meaning people and different cultures have bestowed upon them. Someone who dresses up like a red, horned devil might be seen as something completely different in another culture, where evil is portrayed in a different way.
Summing up, I think it’s all about respect. I respect your beliefs, you respect mine. If you feel uncomfortable with my celebration of Halloween and find it unbearable, just block me throughout October. There are a lot of political and religious points of view out there, but I’m not offended by people expressing these, I just choose when and when not to pay attention (I am offended, however, by people insisting on making you listen when you have already chosen not to).
I think it’s demanding too much of the rest of the world to be careful about what they say not to offend you.
What IS your responsibility is to prepare yourself and your children about how to filter and deal with these messages in a tolerant way.
Anyway, for everyone out there who does want to join in on the fun, it’s only 12 days to Halloween!