With Halloween fast approaching, we asked our ministers for their thoughts on the holiday. In particular, we asked our Wiccan ministers how they felt about the caricatures of witches with grotesque green faces that are seen in abundance this time of year. We also were interested in hearing from our Christian ministers on their thoughts of All Hallows Eve compared to Halloween. We will share some of the great responses we received and see how this festival of fright is celebrated and perceived by the ULC.
Rev. McArdle informs that "Halloween has its roots in the ancient Pagan festival called Samhain, which is a time for remembering and honoring the deceased. It is very similar to the Mexican holiday, Dia de Los Muertos, which takes place this time of year as well."
The Samhain originated in Europe as a day marking the end of the harvest. Feasts were had and bonfires were lit; this was viewed as a time when spirits were thought to be able to pass into our world and interact with it. "I set a place for those who have passed on and that are dear to me at the table. I celebrate Pagan as is my ancestry" said Rev. Merkel. Indeed, Pagans in the 10th century shared in this practice, though sometimes these spirits would cause harm, and thus needed to be warded off. It is this notion that evolved into many modern aspects of Halloween, including the focus on scary and spooky things. Even the conception of the Pagans that celebrated Samhain was transformed from that of Earth-centered spiritualists to gnarled and evil witches.
As a mom and lover of all things related to Halloween, I enjoy handing out candy, watching scary movies, and making costumes for my girls. With that said, the only thing that bothers me about caricatures of witches is that we are "of the devil" and we are all "unholy and evil", both which are far from the truth of what witches really are. Rev. McFerrin I'm a little conflicted when it comes to the caricatures of witches. It was what I knew growing up, from movies, cartoons, illustrations, but when I became an adult I grew to know and become friends with wiccans. They are attractive, normal people who are invested in an older religion with more natural beliefs than most people are accustomed to. Rev. Groves While ULC ministers generally agree that the witch decorations we see at Halloween can be somewhat problematic in facilitating a public understanding of real Wiccans, most do not refrain from dressing up and enjoying the festivities.
I am Wiccan and I decorate a table with autumn decorations, candles and photos of my loved ones that have passed away. At night, I sit by the altar and send prayers to them. Other than that, I dress up, hand out candy, decorate my home inside and outside in "spooky" decor and take photos Rev. Noircent The history of "Halloween" is not something "of the devil" and in fact in many cultures the celebration was to actually drive away evil spirits. I respect those who choose not to celebrate and only ask that you would respect those who do. Rev. Colyer