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Speaking Out: The real story of Halloween

By  Paula Ducepec, Youth Speak News
  • October 23, 2019

What’s orange, black and spooky all over? It’s the scarily carved out pumpkins that began appearing  on front lawns and porches as soon as the clock struck midnight on Oct. 1.

Fans of Halloween have appropriately coined the month of October the “spooky season,” and very aptly so. To mark the transition into the season, Spirit Halloween stores have sprung up, helping child and adult alike deck out their homes in Halloween gear. 

Halloween has become an arts and crafts holiday where the scarier and more elaborate the costume, the better (and the more candy we take home). We leave no stone unturned to prepare for this ghoulish night.

However, there is one thing that we often overlook when preparing for this season. It’s preparing our souls. 

Halloween, in fact, has its historical roots under other names such as All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints’ Eve. It comes the day before two Christian feasts — All Saints Day on Nov. 1 and All Souls Day on Nov. 2. Both those days honour the departed — the saints of the Church and the souls of all faithfully departed. In our highly commercialized society, just about everything can be commoditized. Throughout human history, people have tried to answer what the nature of souls are, what they do, and the idea of an afterlife. 

In the 19th century, a philosophy called spiritualism rose into prominence, based on the belief that through a medium, departed souls can interact with the living. The practice of communication with the spirits became so popular it turned into a favourite past-time in Victorian homes. 

In our modern age, we see the effects of spiritualism through movies and TV shows that get more and more elaborate in their explanations and visuals. Big-budget production houses shell out millions in producing series such as The Haunting of Hill House and movies like The Woman in Black. They are addictive because they give an explanation — albeit corrupted — of souls and the afterlife. 

Souls, at least in these interpretations, are evil lurking in the dark, scary entities waiting to strike fear and paranoia. They have unfinished business and would do everything in their capacity to hurt and bring pain to the living. 

The phrase “you are not alone” has ceased to offer hope and comfort. It now bears the connotation of something scary and evil, silently lurking behind you waiting for just the right moment to pounce. 

As we prepare for the season, let us remember that our faith and belief has already answered this age-old question regarding our spirits and souls, and the afterlife. All we must do is remember it.

Our Catholic belief states that the soul, upon mortal and physical death, lives on and returns to the Lord.  Halloween, or all Hallows Eve, is not all  about ghouls, or witches and their boiling cauldrons, or the boogeyman hiding under your bed. It celebrates the souls of our relatives and loved ones that have died and moved on to the next life. It is a celebration of the life they lived and an ongoing intercessory prayer that they live their new lives in the presence of God. 

This day must remind us that we are not alone, at least not in the creepy, disturbing way some movies show. The special day should remind us  — and we, in turn, must remember — that those we have lost are not gone. They are still in our hearts, thoughts and prayers. Ghosts and souls are not to be feared; they deserve our prayers and our love just as if they were alive so that they may continue on in their journey to finding God. 

I am not saying that we must completely ditch the costume making and all the parties; let us just remember the true essence of Halloween. We can help children do the decorations and the dressing up, but  we must also prepare and teach them the true essence of the occasion. 

(Ducepec, 21, is a Bachelor of Science undergraduate student at the University of Toronto studying Anthropology.)

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