Halloween is coming up in another week. I wonder how many of us will be celebrating and why? Is it just for the candy, or is there something about Halloween that speaks to our nature? Personally, I gave it up long ago, without any fanfare. In my youth I recall going door to door and begging for sweet treats. I also remember having so many treats I couldn’t eat them all in a year, so I always had a bunch left over.
It wasn’t until long after I’d already stopped eating candy and celebrating the holiday that I came across the book by Rev. Ishakamusa Barashango, on African People and European Holidays. This book opened my eyes to the origins, not only of Halloween, but Christmas, as well. By the time I read it, I had already stopped celebrating both holidays. In the case of Christmas, my whole family stopped celebrating Christmas when we started celebrating Kwanzaa, in the early 70’s.
Although, some people, like televangelist Pat Robertson have labeled Halloween a pagan holiday dedicated to Satan, the fact of the matter is it’s actually a Christian holiday. While it’s roots may lie in “pagan” rituals of the ancient druids and other pre-Christian sects, it is as Christian as Lent. Don’t take my word for it, look it up. It was originally called All Hallows Eve and is the day before All Saints Day. Originally it was more like a day to revere ones ancestors and included candle lit ceremonies and overnight stays in cemeteries.
American commercialism turned it into a day to binge on sugary treats. Likewise, Saint Patty’s Day, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, Easter and Christmas have been commercialized in similar fashion, with costumes, candy, gluttony and intoxication becoming the hall marks of each holiday. In America this is how holidays are celebrated. Even Kwanzaa, an original Black holiday, has not been able to avoid blatant attempts to Americanize/commercialize it.
As this holiday season fast approaches, I wonder who will continue to blindly “celebrate” America’s favorite holidays and who will decide to engage in more meaningful practices, meant to uplift and energize the Black family? Some of the most meaningful lessons our children will learn are wrapped up in the celebration or rejection of these American holidays. I advise everyone that decides to continue celebrating them to do a little research and learn more about what’s actually being celebrated.
I’m sure most people are unaware of one of the most important parts of the Christmas celebrations of Europe, which include Krampus and his Krewe of demons and devils. I wonder how many people are aware of the origins of many of the characters included in the Halloween menagerie? What are our children learning when we dress them up as clowns? Who are the Bozo people? Why does Bozo have such big feet, large nose, wild hair, big lips and funny looking hair and why is he in whiteface?