Art Maier: Halloween -- happy with no old fears
On the tiny chance that you didn’t read or hear it from any other source, let me use this column to plead and urge: Do what you can to keep Halloween safe! Take the fun seriously for safety.
Part of the fun of Halloween is not taking seriously the old terrors that went with the origins of Halloween. They were terrors, indeed, even if they were only imagined. Behind our harmless tricks and treats we find the shadowy traditions of horrific beliefs and, sometimes, savage practices.
The whole complex of cultural folklore and fantasies leading to Halloween may never be completely known. However, it is a matter of history that the Celts, a tribal group of Northern Europe, had a festival to Samhain, their lord of death. The Celt New Year came on our November l. The Samhain festival fell Oct. 31.
The average pagan Celt believed the tribal priests without question. The priests said that on the evening of Oct. 31, dead spirits could come back and visit their old homes. Such visits were not always supposed to be pleasant. This was one of the beliefs that probably went into some Halloween traditions.
About A.D. 800, the Christian Church declared Nov. 1 a day to remember all Christian Saints. Apparently, the day before was later called All Hallow e’en (All Holy Evening).
It seems the church leaders set up these church specialty dates to give church members in Europe something with a Christian connection to celebrate at this time. In a typical village, pagan neighbors would spend the evening of Oct. 31 in fear. No doubt some paid money to local pagan priests to cast special spells intended to scare away ghost hauntings. For many of the crafty priests, it was surely a Happy Halloween.
Christians, instead, could spend the same evening fondly remembering loved ones who had passed on to glory. Faith in the in the Bible message of salvation put away terrors of evil forces.
Of course, in the Bible there are evil forces that we are warned about. From the Bible we learn there is a Satan and satanic agents. Popular science and the scientific outlook may have crowded superstition out of our culture, to some extent. But Satan is no superstition.
The potential for harm here is vast. Members of so-called Satanic cults may not realize what they are doing, even with innocent intentions, until eternally late for their souls.
The Apostle Paul, a brilliant intellectual, definitely not given to pagan superstitions of the time, said in Ephesians 6:l2 (Revised Standard Version - 1946), in part:
“For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness...”
The Bible tells us that Christ gives guarding protection to his believers against such powers.
It is a protection that we did not, at first, deserve. The Bible says we all sin, and deserve death now, with eternal punishment to come. However, God came to earth, born as Christ. Through terrible suffering, Christ took our sin penalty.
The Bible message makes it clear. All who accept Christ’s work of salvation have free forgiveness of sins. Those who so believe have absolute assurance of life in heaven, after this time on earth. Death has no terrors for the soul of the believer in Christ.
If you haven’t yet, put faith in Christ and his forgiveness now. Then, in this faith, look forward to the next world in confidence. Heaven is the happy future of believers in Christ, the savior.
Art Maier is a semi-retired teacher, environmental science specialist and calligrapher. He is a regular columnist for the Boonville Daily News in Boonville, Mo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.