Halloween tricking our souls? -by Cameron Salony

I love the end of the workday. I leave my windowless office on the seventh floor, pull down my white sunglasses that would have been oh-so-popular in the ‘80s and walk outside to a smooth breeze and the rustle of fallen leaves.

After entering my car and driving for a couple of blocks, I noticed a group of teenagers on a street corner holding up signs of protest. Me, of course with my journalism background and being the champion of free speech that I am, naturally took an interest in their message. Although, I was a bit surprised to see the target of their “beef.”

I never dreamed I'd see the youth protest a holiday that enables them to gather Twix and Kit Kat bars to their heart’s content and/or put on a mask or makeup and act like somebody else for a couple of hours. I personally enjoyed donning a red leather jacket and matching too-tight pants, while wearing a wig as I transformed into the King of Pop at my work Halloween party this year.

My first thought was, “Well that’s cool, they’re passionate about something and their voicing their opinions.” I further endorsed their actions by telling myself that at least they weren’t hanging out with the group of kids who loiter behind the gas station next to my apartment complex while smoking cigarettes.

Upon a closer look, I noticed one of their signs which read:

Christmas = Jesus

Easter = Jesus

What does Halloween equal?

Another in bold, green letters:

Don’t let the devil “trick” your soul

My next thought was that these kids had been spending too much time researching the history of Halloween and not that of Christmas and Easter. If you have a problem with Halloween’s pagan roots (which some people wrongfully equate to Satanism), then at least know that Christmas and Easter do not have a pristine background either.

Howard W. Hunter, the fourteenth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said to students at Brigham Young University:

“The [Christmas] season is steeped in tradition and its roots stem back in history. The commencement of the holiday lies in pagan worship long before the introduction of Christianity. The god Mithra was worshiped by the ancient Aryans, and this worship gradually spread to India and Persia. Mithra at first was the god of the heavenly light of the bright skies and later in the Roman period was worshiped as the deity of the sun, or the sun-god--Sol Invictus Mithra. Gradually Christianity gained a victory over Mithraism, which had been its strongest rival, and the festival day celebrating the birth of Mithra was used by the Christians to commemorate the birth of Christ.” [i]

Now an excerpt from the History Channel:

The end of December was a perfect time for celebration in most areas of Europe. At that time of year, most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter. For many, it was the only time of year when they had a supply of fresh meat.

In Germany, people honored the pagan god Oden during the mid-winter holiday. Germans were terrified of Oden, as they believed he made nocturnal flights through the sky to observe his people, and then decide who would prosper or perish. Because of his presence, many people chose to stay inside.[ii]

Biblical scholars and historians attest that Jesus of Nazareth’s exact date of birth is unknown, but that they are pretty sure it wasn’t December 25, the day that ancient Aryans worshipped Mithra. Some Christians testify that Jesus’ actual birthday was in April. Don’t let me give you the wrong impression I enjoy celebrating Christmas just as much as the next guy; and not just for reasons that include a guy in a red suit and presents under a pine tree. I, however, reserve the right to know that while I celebrate His birth on December 25, I know that He was actually born in the Spring.

An Internet search about the history of Easter turned up the following information:

“The Pagan festivals always coincided with the vernal Equinox on the 21st of March every year. The festivals were lavish feasts that celebrated the booming of new flowers, the chirping of birds, butterflies, and sunshine and in general the feeling of rejuvenation that is inherent of spring.

The Christian church however, changed the Pagan festival from a celebration of spring to a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.”[iii]

Furthermore, in Pagan times the egg was the ideal symbol of earth’s rebirth. The almost eternal winter was halting and the earth sprung forth with new life just as the egg miraculously bursts forth with a living chick. Many pagans believed the egg had special powers. Some buried eggs under the foundations of buildings to ward off evil, some pregnant Roman women carried an egg in a pocket hoping its eventual contents would foretell the gender of their unborn child and French brides smashed eggs under foot before entering the threshold of their new homes.

With the advent of Christianity, the symbol of the egg was changed to represent the rebirth of man. Christians embraced the meaning behind the egg symbol and likened it to the tomb from which Christ rose.[iv]

I am by no means blaming the early Christians for acclimating forms of pagan culture into Christian worship. In some areas of the ancient world, this might have been the only way to convert pagans to Christianity. My intent is to, however, show that Halloween (even with its pagan heritage) has now transformed into a family holiday where parents bond with their children while collecting candy on doorsteps, where homeowners welcome visitors that they others wise wouldn’t have and where people can use their imagination. In this respect, today’s Halloween, in its purest form, is a family-oriented holiday and in my book anything that brings families together is all right with the Savior of Mankind. Sadly, some people celebrate the holiday in an unsafe fashion, but the core of Halloween is not of the devil.