|Photo: Carroll College Student Life|
The air is crisp and damp, the sun is low and bright. Emmy Bo and I are riding the bike to school, she sitting in front of me on the bicycle rim in a side saddle pose. We are not allowed but we do it anyway. Feeling a bit naughty we swisch down the street.
“Mama… You know that Eléonore doesn’t do Halloween like we do.”
“ No? Why is that?”
“ She says she loves God and not the scary bad ghosts.”
We have reached school and Emmy Bo is jumping down from the bike and I give her the backpack to put on. I look at her and see question marks in her face as she is trying to make sense out of a conversation with her classmate Eléonore, the oldest daughter of three in the pastor’s family. I ask Emmy Bo:
“Why do we celebrate Halloween?”
“TO GET SWEETS!” she says with a big toothless grin on her face.
I quickly realize that this is something I have failed to educate my children about. That this is a perception taught by the commercial Halloween in stores and that in our house Halloween has always just been about Trick & Treat, dressing up and decorating with scary stuff… This is totally wrong.
“Naaaahhh. That is not what Halloween is about really.” I tell her with a playful grin on my face. Emmy Bo looks at me and laughs in understanding. She knows that there is something more than Trick & Treat to Halloween. She just doesn’t know what. I start to explain:
“ You see, Halloween is actually about remembering the holy spirits of the dead. So if you have a family member that is dead, like a grandma, a father a brother a cousin or maybe a cat, you can go to their grave and celebrate the memory of the dead person by lighting candles in the dark and giving flowers. It is a beautiful way of remembering this person and showing that this person is not forgotten. That they remain in our hearts and memory." (Note: In Sweden we call it Alla Helgons Dag - All Saints Day, an this is a tradition that I was growing up with in Sweden. No Trick & Treating when I was a child…)
“Yes! That is what Eléonore does. She goes to the graves. Because she doesn’t like the dress up and scary faces. But why do we do Trick & Treat then?”
For a moment I am caught off guard because to be really honest, I have no idea. Shame on me. Why do we do Trick & Treat when we are supposed to remember the dead? I tell Emmy Bo I will Google it and let her know after school. And she is pleased with this answer. For now. And I go home to enlighten myself on the subject and I get stuck on the computer quite sometime in my own education.
I find it very interesting. And upsetting at the same time. That commercialism is holding us so tight in its grip that many of us don’t really know what certain festivals and holidays (religious or not) are all about. That we allow ourselves to get sucked into yet another money-spending event to be a part of the commercial joy ride, forgetting all about the historical backgrounds for the happening. (Read an interesting article I stumbled upon here: Religious significance of Halloween has been lost, replaced by commercialism by Charlie Honey at The Grand Rapids Press.)
I’m guilty of the lack of knowledge. I am guilty of getting seduced by commercialism. Thanks to my children I teach myself on the topic. I talk to the pastors wife about it (who is a darling friend of mine living next door) and today I learned something new. Which makes me feel great. And I am prepared to answer questions when Emmy Bo returns from school this afternoon, because now I know what it is all about. Do you know what Halloween is all about, really?