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Halloween: party excuse, pagan ritual, or commercial opportunity?

Oct 10th, 2010 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

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THUMBS UP: Hells Pizza Cuba St owner Jason Buckley approves of Halloween.

IS it an excuse for a dress-up party, letting the kids play on the street, pagan rituals driven by fear and death, or a commercial opportunity?

Whatever, New Zealanders will celebrate Halloween in different ways this Sunday…or just pretend it doesn’t exist.

October 31 holds different significance for Catholics, pagans, party-goers and parents and there is little agreement over what the day actually means in this country.

“It’s not really a religious holiday at all, but a commercial event that still marks the transition from season to season,” says the programme director of religious studies at Victoria University, Professor Paul Morris.

Murphy’s Law Petone manager Tamahou Waikari agrees Halloween is a commercial opportunity which promotes itself, but is also a good excuse for a party.Halloween TEXT

“It’s a chance to relive your youth and throw a party. If you don’t get into it, you’re mad.”

Hamilton woman Cathryn Forgeson is choosing not to give candy to trick-or-treaters.

“I will have a sign on my gate politely telling people not to bother. It never used to be done over here, why start now?”

New mother Tory Heming Chandler is also against trick-or-treating, but likes the novelty of dressing up.

“I wouldn’t let [my son] go out asking strangers for candy. I don’t think it’s particularly safe and quite rude, but I can see the fun in kids dressing up.”

Catholic enquiry centre’s director Father Allan Jones says modern day celebrations are based on pagan rituals.

“In a secular sense, it’s coming out of pagan roots about fear and death.”

Catholics celebrate All Saints Day on November 1, acknowledging eternal life and commemorating all the Christian faithful, both known and unknown.

It is “the absolute opposite” of the ideas of death commemorated in pagan rituals on October 31, he says.

The Celtic harvest festival of Samhain is recognised by pagans on this date, but it is believed to have first been celebrated 1000 years after All Saints Day became a universal feast.

Samhain marks the end of summer and the harvest period, celebrating the beginning of the darker half of the year – or the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere – and is sometimes regarded as the Celtic New Year.

Ancient pagans dressed in costumes and masks to ward off harmful spirits and this is reflected in modern-day trick-or-treating.

Both events centre on the thinning of the veil between the spiritual and physical realms.

The souls trapped in purgatory and demons can be more readily seen at All Hallows’ Eve,  an old-fashioned way of saying the eve of All Saints’ Day, or as it is more commonly known, Halloween.

Instead of dressing in costume and asking for sweets, Father Allan Jones suggests the more appropriate way for Catholics to spend the night is to teach their children about All Saints Day.halloween MAIN 2

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