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Progress? To Hell with Halloween!



     There is undoubted mechanical progress. This morning when I turned my computer on, it said "Because of the end of daylight saving time, we have changed your clock. Please check." I checked the computer clock, and, sure enough, it had changed. More important advances, in the field of medicine for example, are also impressive. But what about the deeper things, the wellsprings of our civilization?
     In old Europe, All Souls Day followed All Saints Day, which celebrated those who, by their exemplary life, had made the grade. All Souls Day commemorated ordinary mortals, for the repose of whose souls, especially our dead relatives, we prayed. In Catholic countries the custom was to visit the cemetery and place flowers on their graves. It was one of the most solemn days of the year.
     When I came to the United States, I was appalled by Halloween. "Trick or treat!" encouraged youngsters to be criminals. People feared that their windows might be smashed. Halloween is a minor festival in Ireland, said to derive from an old Celtic custom. Thanks be to St.Patrick, but this small snake, escaped, crossed the Atlantic and grew into a boa in the United States. It is a constrictor, the victim being our civilization, which delights in the new paganism.
     "Progress" has hit even Catholic countries. In Mexico, Halloween is the Day of the Dead, celebrated in cemeteries. This year, the "civilized" people of Mexico City, indifferent to the plight of the thousands suffering in the flooded Caribbean area, have jumped into their cars and headed for Acapulco. The "uncivilized" still mark the Day of the Dead with visits to cemeteries.
     Stanford should know better. Zapata House has advertised its Day of the Day celebration as "lots of fun." Despite earlier rebukes, Halloween will again be celebrated with fun at the Mausoleum of the Stanfords.
     Of course, San Francisco, the city which knows how, is putting on the best show. The San Francisco Examiner features on it front page an article entitled "The Monster Bash. Revelers flock to the City for Halloween, boosting revenues in the town that knows how:" Knows how to use even religion to make money. The page is illustrated with a picture of an idiotic man "in a flashy red mask in the Castro district, where festivities will flood the street on Sunday."
     Church on Sunday? Ugh? Your dead parents and other relatives? Aw fergeddit! Shuddup!

Ronald Hilton - 10/31/99


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