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To hell with "Halloween"!

Rob Gaudet's description of All Saints/All Souls Days in Austria is very similar to what I reported about San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio, Texas; "I am shocked at the divergence between Halloween in the United States and the same holiday, by a different name, in Latin America and Austria. I presume that many Catholic countries follow the Latin American and Austrian type of observance.

In Austria, it sounds like a truly beautiful occasion in which people attend church to remember those who passed away. My girlfriend said that she went to a small village in upper Austria where her mother was recently buried. She made a special trip to the village for All Saints Day. In the church in this small Austrian village, the priest read the name of each person from the village who had died in the past year. He paused for seven seconds after reading each name. The mother of my girlfriend was on the list. My girlfriend felt comforted to know that a whole community of people in that filled church were thinking of her mother for seven seconds of silence.

What a contrast from today's trick-or-treat in America, where death is treated as a fright. There was a young man about three feet tall in the lounge of my apartment complex in Seattle. He wore a black robe. His face was covered with a skull made out of plastic. He squeezed a plastic bag shaped like a heart. Each time he squeezed, red liquid flowed from the heart into plastic tubes and then ran down the face of his skull mask to give the illusion of bleeding.

The two experiences in Austria and Seattle are so different so as to be entirely different holidays. The one is comforting, sensitive, and personal. The other one is a spectacle. It makes me sad to realize that so much of American life has become a spectacle to the point that our life imitates art (e.g. the movies and tv) rather than the other way around".

RH: It is said that the revelry (?) of Halloween derives from the Celtic custom which Christianity sanitized. But why should this happen in the US and not in Europe? Even in Ireland, Halloween is not celebrated the way it is n the US. Unfortunately our form of celebration is spreading and driving out the religious celebration of All Saints/All Souls Days, Halloween is the eve before All Hallows, i.e. All Saints. Carnival is celebrated not as the eve of Lent, bt just as another fun day, and the same has happened to Halloween.

Ronald Hilton - 11/3/02