The spread of paganism – Halloween

From History.com, an article on the origins of Halloween. I wonder if any of the parents dressing their little ones as witches, ghouls and devils realise what they are promoting.

Ancient Origins of Halloween

Danish_BonfireHalloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By 43 A.D., the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of “bobbing” for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

On May 13, 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in honor of all Christian martyrs, and the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established in the Western church. Pope Gregory III (731–741) later expanded the festival to include all saints as well as all martyrs, and moved the observance from May 13 to November 1. By the 9th century the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands, where it gradually blended with and supplanted the older Celtic rites. In 1000 A.D., the church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It is widely believed today that the church was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. All Souls Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils. The All Saints Day celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the traditional night of Samhain in the Celtic religion, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.

Halloween Comes to America

Celebration of Halloween was extremely limited in colonial New England because of the rigid Protestant belief systems there. Halloween was much more common in Maryland and the southern colonies. As the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups as well as the American Indians meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge. The first celebrations included “play parties,” public events held to celebrate the harvest, where neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes, dance and sing. Colonial Halloween festivities also featured the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making of all kinds. By the middle of the nineteenth century, annual autumn festivities were common, but Halloween was not yet celebrated everywhere in the country.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing Ireland’s potato famine of 1846, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally. Taking from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition. Young women believed that on Halloween they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings or mirrors.

In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers than about ghosts, pranks and witchcraft. At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season and festive costumes. Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything “frightening” or “grotesque” out of Halloween celebrations. Because of these efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century.

By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide parties as the featured entertainment. Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, vandalism began to plague Halloween celebrations in many communities during this time. By the 1950s, town leaders had successfully limited vandalism and Halloween had evolved into a holiday directed mainly at the young. Due to the high numbers of young children during the fifties baby boom, parties moved from town civic centers into the classroom or home, where they could be more easily accommodated. Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats. A new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday.

Today’s Halloween Traditions

The American Halloween tradition of “trick-or-treating” probably dates back to the early All Souls’ Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives. The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as “going a-souling” was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money.

The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry. On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. On Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter.

Halloween Superstitions

Halloween has always been a holiday filled with mystery, magic and superstition. It began as a Celtic end-of-summer festival during which people felt especially close to deceased relatives and friends. For these friendly spirits, they set places at the dinner table, left treats on doorsteps and along the side of the road and lit candles to help loved ones find their way back to the spirit world. Today’s Halloween ghosts are often depicted as more fearsome and malevolent, and our customs and superstitions are scarier too. We avoid crossing paths with black cats, afraid that they might bring us bad luck. This idea has its roots in the Middle Ages, when many people believed that witches avoided detection by turning themselves into cats. We try not to walk under ladders for the same reason. This superstition may have come from the ancient Egyptians, who believed that triangles were sacred; it also may have something to do with the fact that walking under a leaning ladder tends to be fairly unsafe. And around Halloween, especially, we try to avoid breaking mirrors, stepping on cracks in the road or spilling salt.

But what about the Halloween traditions and beliefs that today’s trick-or-treaters have forgotten all about? Many of these obsolete rituals focused on the future instead of the past and the living instead of the dead. In particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday—with luck, by next Halloween—be married. In 18th-century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween night, hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it. In Scotland, fortune-tellers recommended that an eligible young woman name a hazelnut for each of her suitors and then toss the nuts into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ashes rather than popping or exploding, the story went, represented the girl’s future husband. (In some versions of this legend, confusingly, the opposite was true: The nut that burned away symbolized a love that would not last.) Another tale had it that if a young woman ate a sugary concoction made out of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg before bed on Halloween night she would dream about her future husband. Young women tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands’ initials; tried to learn about their futures by peering at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water; and stood in front of mirrors in darkened rooms, holding candles and looking over their shoulders for their husbands’ faces. Other rituals were more competitive. At some Halloween parties, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut-hunt would be the first to marry; at others, the first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle.

Of course, whether we’re asking for romantic advice or trying to avoid seven years of bad luck, each one of these Halloween superstitions relies on the good will of the very same “spirits” whose presence the early Celts felt so keenly.


11 thoughts on “The spread of paganism – Halloween

  1. This event used to be basically confined to the US, but it has gradually been imported into other western nations. The only previous contact would have been through franchises such as the old Snoopy and Peanuts cartoons. Trick or Treat was a colloquial and somewhat quaint Americanism.

    Now it is everywhere. As Christianity in the West has diminished amongst the mainline churches so paganism has begun to thrive. Halloween is one of its main festivals. With paganism we have the rise of superstition, and a completely wrong headed view of the spirit world. I think there must be people who actually believe that zombies and vampires exist, and that Marvel superheroes and villains who have mutated through various incidental events are a real possibility.

    My other concern is that the contemporary church is losing sight of the real supernatural by promoting Christianity which appeals to a reason and sense level only. There is a spiritual dimension, but who is preaching for it. Certainly not he cessationsist or the neo-pagans.

  2. Canon J John writes in the Daily Mirror Opinion column about Halloween.

    Halloween has become one of the biggest events in the British calendar. There have always been traditions associated with 31st October, but the present extravaganza, with its epidemic of ‘trick-or-treating’, is a recent phenomenon.

    A decade ago, spending on Halloween in the UK was only £12m; now, boosted by Hollywood and marketing, it is £300m.

    Financially, Halloween is now, after Christmas and Easter, our third highest grossing celebration.

    Yet Halloween has seized this position without any serious consideration of what it stands for and whether or not we even want it.

    When people talk about what happens on 31st October a little phrase commonly heard is that Halloween is ‘harmless nonsense’. But is it indeed harmless? Is it merely nonsense? It’s time to do some hard thinking.

    Let me give you six reasons why Halloween is not harmless:

    1. HALLOWEEN CELEBRATES EVIL

    Although people celebrate Halloween in different ways it remains, at its core, an event that glorifies the dark, creepy and scary side of life.

    Children and adults dress up as figures that are ‘evil’: witches, vampires, ghosts and demons.

    If you want to be different you can hire costumes to make you look like a chainsaw killer, a psychopathic butcher or even a shooting victim (‘with authentic-looking bullet holes’).This is hardly harmless.

    Whatever view we have about life, we all take it for granted that our society should spend time and energy encouraging children to care for others and to know the difference between right and wrong.

    Yet on this one day, we throw all those values away and glorify everything that is evil and unpleasant. Talk about sending out mixed messages!

    2. HALLOWEEN IS UNHELPFUL

    We live in a world where every parent and teacher takes care to warn children that strangers may pose a threat and that they need to take precautions. Yet at Halloween we discard that rule and encourage children to go and knock on doors and accept sweets from strangers. Another mixed message!

    3. HALLOWEEN TRIVIALISES BAD THINGS

    No one is in doubt that evil is serious and that muggings, stabbings and serious accidents are horrendous. Yet, again, Halloween breaks the rules. On this day we pretend that death, deformity and injury are no more than kids’ play!

    4. HALLOWEEN IS OFFENSIVE

    You could simply say that scaring kids is unhelpful, but there is a more subtle and troubling issue. Halloween costumes frequently centre on deformities, gory wounds and disfigurement. There are a number of websites that tell you how to create an effective disfigurement; for example, how to create realistic-looking burns and how to make yourself hideously ugly. Now consider how you would feel about that if you yourself were a burns victim, were severely disabled or had suffered horrendous scarring. Do we really want to spread the message that ugliness equates to evil?

    5. HALLOWEEN IS GETTING WORSE

    Concerns about Halloween do not simply come from those of us with a ‘religious agenda’. Increasingly, other people are expressing concern, particularly about the way that Halloween seems to be getting darker and nastier every year. Carved pumpkins were, I suppose, pretty harmless; the new blood- stained axe murderers are not. If we don’t like the direction that Halloween is going in, then maybe it’s time to stop celebrating it.

    6. HALLOWEEN ALLOWS EVIL A VICTORY

    In some older Halloween traditions people dressed up in clothes that made them look evil and then, at the end of the evening, the outfits were burnt. The message was clear if naive: in the end, good triumphs over evil. Yet there is no hint of that in the modern Halloween. Now, evil is unchallenged and just slips away into the darkness, to return at some other time. That’s not the message our world needs today.

    J.John (Revd Canon) is Christian speaker and writer. He is director of The Philo Trust, a registered charity committed to communicating the relevance of the Christian faith.

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/opinion/news-opinion/reverend-j-john-six-reasons-2486777

  3. Thanks for this article Steve. We have a couple of Americans at work who brought their Halloween traditions with them on Thursday… It was fun and we all had a bit of a laugh, but not even these people (who had been celebrating this tradition all their life) could tell me what Halloween was about or how it has morphed into this present-day form that we see on TV.
    But then when you ask anyone about Easter eggs and chocolates, you pretty much get the same response. The highway to hell is paved with ignorance.

  4. My first acquaintance with this silly festivity was in my youth when a friend invited me around one dark evening to a farmhouse he was staying at with cousins from the US.

    When I arrived I had to seek them out, and, after a long time searching, I was suddenly pounced upon by people dressed as ghouls, witches and wizards. Knowing nothing whatsoever about this thing I was pretty startled at first when they leapt out of some dark shed as I walked by.

    After a while we laughed about it, and the joke was very much on me, but it took along time for it to sink in that this was even a fun thing to do to people. But it was very rare then, which is why I know nothing about it. They’d imported an American tradition.

    These days it is everywhere, so we have watched it creep in over the last 15 to 20 years and actually become part of the culture, sadly.

    I think J John hits the nail on the head when he reminds us that we warn our children not to take sweets or treats from strangers, then people let their kids go knocking on strangers’ doors for this express purpose.

    Nuts!

  5. I guess it’s all about how you look at it. I’ve got to say that until recently I did not like Halloween and would not let my kids go out trick or treating (heck I sper time in gaol for demanding money with menace, how do these kiss not get arrested for demanding lollies with menace!). However I have recently changed my mind.

    Here is what john Dickson, probably an Australian version of John says

    http://www.thepunch.com.au/articles/is-halloween-evil/

  6. Halloween: Holiday or “Helliday”

    Printed in the U Matuna, the newspaper for the Archdiocese of Hagatna, Guam, October 23, 2011.

    Halloween was probably my mother’s favorite holiday. There was no end to her creativity. She would blindfold an unsuspecting trick-or-treater and stick his hands into a bowl of cold spaghetti and tell the already frightened kid it was a dead man’s brains, or make him feel a hard-boiled egg and tell the poor child, who only wanted a handful of candy, that it was the man’s eye.

    She would make our costumes. Her masterpiece was the one she made for my brother. She stuck his head through a large piece of cardboard with a table cloth over it, fit a paper plate around his neck, taped a fork and knife next to the plate, and then poured ketchup over his head. Human head for dinner anyone?

    My annual sojourn to different neighborhoods on Halloween with my own kids tells me that the creativity and gusto for Halloween is just as alive today as it was in my youth. The National Retail Federation reports Halloween festivities continue to increase in popularity and Americans will spend nearly seven billion dollars this year on Halloween paraphernalia.

    Halloween is unique among our cultural celebrations. We know why we celebrate Christmas, New Year’s, Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July, but Halloween? It’s origins and the reasons for its place among our annual cycle of holidays is as masked and mysterious as the identities of the bands of ghouls and goblins that make their way to our door each year with their bags and baskets.

    Recently, an anti-Halloween movement has been making its presence felt. Its central claim is that Halloween is the “devil’s holiday” and that Christians should have nothing to do with it. (1) The anti-Halloween message seems to have resonated a bit within Catholic circles because some Catholics are now eschewing traditional Halloween activities and turning their focus to All Saints Day, which is the next day and from which Halloween (All Hallows Eve) gets its name.

    But while there is nothing wrong with dressing up little Johnny as St. Michael instead of Caspar the Friendly Ghost, merely swapping out costumes is actually a tacit acknowledgement of the case against Halloween. For if in fact Halloween is the “devil’s holiday”, then Catholics must do more than just switch costumes. So it is important that we examine the claims about the supposed dark origins of Halloween lest we persist in perpetuating an unholy activity.

    The central claim in the case against Halloween is that Halloween has “demonic” origins in an ancient Druidic festival in which “Samhain”, the Celtic god of the dead, was worshipped. During the celebration, the Druids (Celtic priests), were alleged to have offered human sacrifice upon great bonfires while dancing about in animal skins.

    The Druids were also thought to have gone “door to door” (trick or treat) during this time seeking virgins to rape and sacrifice. If they were given a virgin, they would leave a carved pumpkin illuminated by candles made from human fat as a sign to the other Druids that this house had given them what they wanted. Demonic assassinations were arranged for those who refused to give them a virgin.

    So here we see several things associated with Halloween: bonfires, costumes (animal skins), “trick or treat”, illuminated pumpkins, and generally scary stuff. Let’s address each.

    First, there is no Celtic god named “Samhain”. “Samhain” is a Celtic word meaning “summer’s end”, and like many ancient peoples of northern climes, the Celts marked the transition between the seasons with a celebration. (2)

    The Celts believed that at this time of the year when the season of life (summer) waned, and the season of death (winter) loomed, the veil between the “worlds” was temporarily lifted and the dead were allowed to revisit the realm of the living, sometimes causing mischief.

    Bonfires were lit, not for any demonic purpose, but to symbolically ward off the approaching darkness of winter and herald the hoped-for coming of the sun in the next cycle of seasons. Animals were sometimes sacrificed during these festivities, but archeologists have turned up no evidence of human sacrifice. (3)

    Dressing up and dancing about in animal skins was not an uncommon practice amongst primitive peoples. It was believed that the qualities of the animal could be imputed to the wearer such as the strength of a bear or the speed of a deer. In this, we might even see a foreshadowing of the Christian admonition to “put on the mantle of Christ”.

    While such beliefs and practices may have been pagan, there was nothing satanic about them. The existence of Satan is of Judeo-Christian origin and Christianity had not yet reached the Celts. The Celtic belief system, though it allowed for mischievous fairies, elves, and the like, had no concept of demons and devils. (4)

    There is also no evidence of a Druidic “trick-or-treat”. The closest thing we can find is the Christian practice in the Middle Ages of poor folk going door to door asking for food in exchange for prayers for the benefactor’s dead relatives on the eve of the “Day of the Dead” (later called the “Feast of All Souls”).

    The practice of hollowing out certain vegetables to be used as lanterns was common. However, we know that the pumpkin was not used because the pumpkin is indigenous to the New World and did not show up in Europe until explorers had begun bringing back items of interest from their excursions.

    Most of the misinformation about the activities of Samhain and the Druids seems to have been based on the research of a British officer in the 1770‘s who was trying to prove the inferiority of the Irish and Scots, the modern day descendants of the Celts. Typical of a researcher with an agenda, he got several things wrong and inserted implications that served his skewed ends.

    The origin of any popular tradition is always complex, having usually grown organically over centuries and through a multitude of cultures and with little documentation. This is especially true of Halloween. However, there really is nothing wrong with the practice of dressing up as ghosts and goblins and knocking on strangers’ doors to ask for candy. As a matter of fact there may be something even quite Christian about it.

    First, what other time of year do we freely give to strangers at our door? (Here in Guam we even invite people in to eat.) Second, the “scary” costumes and clowning around do not celebrate death, they mock it. Satan hates to be ridiculed and true satanists take their rituals very seriously. Yet, that is, in effect, exactly what we do on Halloween.

    Consciously or not, we mock death and the devil. We turn him into a clown. We laugh at him, give him candy, and send him away.

    Given that Halloween is a deeply popular custom and seems to have grown quite organically through the ages, it is easy to see how a pagan celebration, originally enacted to ward off death (winter), could have gradually grown, once Christianity seeped into the culture, into a celebration mocking death and the devil since Christianity is a victory over both.

    Thus does St. Paul say in Colossians: “He disarmed the principalities and powers and made public example of them (one translation says “parading them through the streets”), triumphing over them in Him. Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.” (Col 2:15-16)
    In Christ, death and hell have no more power over us so long as we are signed and sealed by His Sacraments administered through His Church. (Perhaps that’s why the other guys are so worried.) So Happy Halloween. Go and mock the devil…but maybe knock on the door of a confessional first.

    http://1timothy315.blogspot.com.au/2011/10/halloween-holiday-or-helliday.html?m=1

  7. It is widely believed today that the church was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday.

    Early in church history, Christians began to celebrate the “saints” (heroes of the faith),* and by the 7th century, All Saints’ Day was celebrated annually throughout the Christian world – Orthodox churches celebrated on the Sunday after Pentecost, and Roman Catholic churches celebrated on May 13th. Without a doubt, the origin of All Saints’ Day and its Eve (Halloween) was entirely Christian.

    The supposed connection to paganism comes with the fact that the Roman Catholic Church moved the celebration of All Saints’ Day to November 1st in the 8th century. Many scholars claim that Christian leaders were attempting to Christianize a pagan holiday called Samhain (pronounced sow-in; “sow” rhymes with “cow”) which was celebrated on the same day. However, there are several reasons to dispute this claim.

    First, it should be noted that nothing is known about Samhain with any certainty. It seems to have been a celebration limited to the Northern Celtic people (particularly in Ireland and Scotland) who, prior to their Christianization, had no written records. Regardless, scholars have made wild, though totally unsubstantiated, claims about Samhain as a day dedicated to the dead on which human sacrifices and other dark rituals were practiced. In reality, all we really know about Samhain is that it marked a change of season. In fact, the name Samhain is derived from an Old Irish word that roughly means “summer’s end.”1

    Second, by the time that All Saints’ Day came to be associated with November 1st, Christianity had been well established in the Northern Celtic region for at least 300 years. There is no indication that pagan practices persisted on Samhain in a way that concerned Rome (which was 1500 miles away across land and sea) enough to change the date of a holiday.

    Third, Irish Christians originally celebrated the saints on April 20th. So, it is more likely that they remembered the dead in April than during Samhain on November 1st. When All Saints’ Day was transferred to November 1st among Roman Catholic churches, the focus on the dead shifted with it.

    Lastly, as one scholar suggests, November 1st may have been chosen simply so that the many pilgrims who traveled to Rome to commemorate the saints “could be fed more easily after the harvest than in the spring.”2

    So why do so many scholars draw the connection between Halloween and Samhain? In the nineteenth century, cultural anthropologist Sir James Frazer studied the practices of the Northern Celtic people on Hallowmas (a term that has come to describe the three day period of October 31st, Halloween, November 1st, All Saints’ Day, and November 2nd, All Souls’ Day). He asserted that the traditions of Hallowmas were rooted in Samhain, and he claimed that the ancient pagan festival had been a day to honor the dead. Though Christianity probably brought the focus on the dead to Samhain, Frazer claimed the reverse. It seems that every cultural anthropologist after Frazer, has repeated, and even exaggerated his claim.

    Frazer believed that Christianity was rooted in paganism, and he often tried to make connections between the two in his writing. This makes it all the more peculiar that evangelical Christians have embraced his claims and have suggested that we abandon the celebration of Halloween because of its supposed connection to a pagan holiday. The reality is that Halloween is Christian in origin and the selection of its date probably had nothing to do with Samhain.

    http://www.crosswalk.com/special-coverage/halloween/is-halloween-pagan-in-origin.html?p=2

  8. The scary, dark side of life is a reality we must face up to at some time. We all have to deal with death, sickness, sometimes violence etc. Either due to evil deeds of others or its just our lot.

    Normally we dont want to think about those things too much. Thats why I think we are drawn to some representations and symbols of them. It allows us to contemplate them while having a bit of a laugh and some fun. Kids also have to deal with at least the idea of death, danger etc. I think it can be healthy to bring them out in open.

  9. As I said, it’s a creeping paganism. There is nothing Christian about it. I don’t think the article I sited mentioned satanism, but referred to a Celtic origin adapted by druids to mark a turning season. Paganism.

    As to the logic of having scary, pagan dress-ups because there’s a scary side of life, well that makes about as much sense as deliberately going to a scary movie and paying to frightened out of your wits.

    Why dress in fantasy clothes celebrating the dark side to attempt to cure oneself of the fear of the dark side? That’s nonsense. In fact, if you look at pagan tradition, you’ll see that paganism increases the likelihood of superstition in a community. I grew up on an Island with a deep history of paganism followed by Catholicism which adopted many of the pagan traditions and it was rife with superstition.

    Some places still are hyper superstitious. Why promote it with fantasy? There’s enough t be going on with in everyday life without trying to scare people on purpose. I was in a shopping centre yesterday and this assistant had contact lenses which were entirely white which gave her a zombie look! I mean, are you serious?

    Paganism is on the rise. It is not a ‘healthy’ environment to send our children into. Let them learn to face their fears normally by telling hem the truth about death and afterlife.

  10. Well one Christian way is to meditate upon the torture of Jesus upon the cross. By his stripes we are healed. Jesus conquered death by suffering an unbearable death and rising again. Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ was well received by Evangelicals and is one of the most violent movies ever made. We all have to address the problem of suffering.

    Many hollywood movies designed for adults have some violence in them, eg. suspense or action movies. Should we avoid all of these also? What about kids cartoons with violence, eg Wiley Coyote falling off a cliff.

    The obsession in teenage culture with vampires and zombies is a bit concerning, but again it can be traced to concerns about the dangers and dark side of our society. Yes there are a lot of dangers one could be thinking about – and one should. Terrorism, Cancer, Depression, Environmental degredation, starvation etc.. etc. But one cant think about all of those for too long without going mad.

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