Spirituality in the Secular Halloween   Leave a comment

I don’t know about you, but Halloween just may be near the top of the list of my favorite holidays. It’s just so much fun! This year, for various reasons, I’m being a little bit more contemplative about the holiday, though, and I’ve realized that even the secular Halloween that we celebrate is a spiritual celebration. Yes, I know that there is a religious connection in All Souls Day and All Saints Day, but let’s face it, we are talking about the dress-up-in-costume, carve-a-pumpkin, get/give/eat-candy minor secular holiday. (Although for the candy industry I’m sure this is not a “minor” holiday.) Our customs at and around Halloween-time are celebrations of community, creativity, sharing, connection with nature, and life/death. Sounds spiritual to me.

Especially in modern western society, how often is it not just acceptable, but encouraged, to go up to the doorsteps of friends and strangers where you are greeted with a smile and not a scowl or deadpan face? In the practice of trick-or-treating we do just that. We may not know our neighbors well anymore, but in this open celebration of community sharing, we can still connect on some level. Not only are our doors opened to trick-or-treaters, but we give out candy and other treats. I hate to say it, but modern western society is really bad at sharing and giving, except for when it comes to treats on Halloween. Also, while trick-or-treating or handing out candy, we actually notice each other, even if it is just to marvel at a particularly cute/scary/creative costume, or acknowledge with a smile or head tilt that we are engaging in a common activity. On any given day, we don’t notice each other. Our eyes slide over the people around us without a second thought. Or we people watch but without interaction, without the acknowledgement of what we have in common.

Not only do we connect with each other on this one night, but many seasonal/Halloween activities connect us with nature to some degree as well. We carve pumpkins, bob for apples, wander through corn mazes, decorate with corn stalks and gourds, and put (fake) cobwebs UP instead of cursing the real ones. Even as disconnected as we are from the cycles of nature and harvest, we retain these traditions. Hey, it’s better than nothing. Halloween also involves a lot of creativity, whether it be in creating a costume, putting up decorations, or carving a pumpkin. These are really life-affirming activities. I think that is probably part of the reason that there are so many of us who just love this holiday and think it is so much fun (even if musings like this don’t usually enter the mind)!

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Posted October 28, 2011 by mayakey in musings, spiritual practices

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