Hark! Hark to the wind! ‘Tis the night, they say,
When all souls come back from the far away –
The dead, forgotten this many a day!
And the dead remembered – ay! long and well –
And the little children whose spirits dwell
In God’s green garden of asphodel.
Have you reached the country of all content,
0 souls we know, since the day you went
From this time-worn world, where your years were spent?
Would you come back to the sun and the rain,
The sweetness, the strife, the thing we call pain,
And then unravel life’s tangle again?
I lean to the dark – Hush! – was it a sigh?
Or the painted vine-leaves that rustled by?
Or only a night-bird’s echoing cry?
“Hallowe’en” by Virna Sheard.
I’ve been thinking about the evolution of Halloween this week. A few hundred years ago, what we think of as Halloween was a religious holiday called All-hallomas. Before that there was Samhain.. Very few things in this life are unique, especially when it comes to holidays.
What was once a religious. and often solemn, holiday has been almost completely secularized. (Although I do have a few pagan friends who celebrate Samhain as part of their beliefs….)
Costumes. Candy. Very, very cheap candy in handy little single-serving packets on November 1. Cute ghost socks from the dollar store. Cheap, plastic masks that make you look like a zombie or B-movie villain.
You can believe in anything or nothing at all and still participate in this holiday.
I’m starting to think that Christmas is following in Halloween’s footsteps.
Costumes….Think santa hats and headbands that make it look like you have antlers.
Candy….Way too much of it. And it’s on sale for a lot longer than the Halloween stuff.
Cute socks from the dollar store….Yes. They’ll fall apart in January, but you can be warm and festive until then.
Masks…Ok, so we haven’t quite made it that far yet. 😉
It’s getting there though.
My theory is that secular Christmas will completely overrun the religious version of it in the mainstream media’s depiction of it within my lifetime. Individual families will still think of it in religious terms, of course, but there’s a big difference between what some people do in the privacy of their own homes (or churches) and what comes to mind for most people when they hear a certain word.
Even now it feels a little for weird to refer to Christmas as secular. Of course that’s what it is.
It will be interesting to see what happens in 10 or 20 years.
I think that secular Christmas is already more prevalent than a religious or spiritual celebration. There really are few Christmas traditions observed today that have any real tie to a specific religious element. I think the holdouts from Catholic congregations and the like are waning just as fast as the bank accounts of corporate giants are growing during the silly season.
In Ontario I agree with you 100%.
I have relatives who live in very small towns in the US where this isn’t quite yet the case. I do think this will change within a decade or so though.