I SAW the jack-o’-lanterns, friendly, frightening, Shine from our gateposts every Halloween; I saw the oak tree, shattered once by lightning, Twisted, stripped clean.” – Alice Duer Miller, “The White Cliffs,” 1940
That phenomenon of cultural economics. HALLOWTIDE. Samhain. Day Of The Dead. Feralia and Pomona. The Seven Brethren: “account of the ritual meals and monstrous tortures” [2 Maccabees: Chapter 7] Dia de Todos los Santos. La Toussaint. All Hallow’s Eve (the night before All Saints Day). A holiday worth $8.8 billion in total spending, according to U.S. NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay: “purchases are inspired by their friends, neighbors and even celebrities on social media.”
Coincident with Hallowmas (Feast of All Saints) and All Souls’ Day (Commemoratio omnium fidelium defunctorum), Halloween goads consumers to hand out candy, decorate their homes, dress in costume, carve a pumpkin, attend a party, visit a haunted house, and engage in trick-or-treat. Festive it is. Halloween celebrations are primarily for children, and American kids will dress up as princesses, Spider-Man and his fellow Avengers, Batman, witches, ghosts, vampires, Elsa or Anna (Frozen), and pirates, according to Prosper Insights Executive Vice President for Strategy Phil Rist. What, no Joker? Put on a happy face.
“Retailers expect to have another strong Halloween season and have stocked up on candy, decorations and the season’s most popular costumes.” But there is a killjoy, isn’t there?
“The ongoing trade war with China is causing uncertainty among American consumers, and 14 percent of those surveyed said their concerns about the economy would impact their Halloween plans. Most Halloween merchandise was in the country before 15 percent tariffs on consumer goods took effect September 1.” [https://nrf.com/media-center/press-releases/social-media-influencing-near-record-halloween-spending]
More Halloween Hubbub. “Retailers offered scary good deals on everything shoppers needed for a frightfully good Halloween. Many flyers featured collections of meal ingredients (including produce items) with accompanying recipes to help families have a hassle-free Halloween. Pumpkins were of course front and center along with apple cider, mums, and winter squash. Other popular items included avocados, mangos, raspberries, sweet potatoes, baby carrots, asparagus, zucchini, yellow onions, and Russet potatoes.
Bakery items, candy, decorations, and costumes took over much of the ad space this week (25 October 2019).” [USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, National Retail Report – Specialty Crops, Volume XIII, Number 43]
The Halloween story so far, according to the candy-makers, the National Confectioners Association. In the United States, the holiday started as an “autumn harvest festival.
During early Halloween festivities, some Americans celebrated Halloween with corn-popping parties, taffy pulls and hayrides. Trick-or-treating, a largely American custom, was popularized in the 1950s by the Baby Boomer generation. Its roots stem from 9th or 10th century Gaelic Ireland and other Celtic regions where disguises were worn to hide from spirits passing from one world to the next on All Hallows’ Eve.”
For Christians, the focus ought to be the Solemnity of All Saints (November 1) to bond the “Church triumphant” with the “Church militant” and to salute the Faithful (Christ’s Apostles, Augustine of Hippo, Martin Luther, John Wesley, John Calvin) as well as the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed (November 2) in order to remember the “Church penitent” and visit the loved ones in cemeteries.
“The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace.” [Wisdom 3:1-9]
During this Lutheran Festival and Anglican Principal Feast, a believer can choose to venerate the martyrs. Saint Maximillian Kolbe and Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein). Titus Brandsma, Martyr of Dachau [https://titusbrandsmateksten.nl/translations/] The 108 Blessed Polish Martyrs killed by Nazis during World War II. Catholic clergymen “Hermann Lange, Eduard Müller and Johannes Prassek, along with Lutheran pastor Karl Friedrich Stellbrink, guillotined in a Hamburg prison in November 1943.” [https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/three-priest-martyrs-of-nazis-beatified-in-germany] The Buna Beach New Guinea Martyrs of August-September 1942 who were victims of the Japanese fascists. Serbian martyrs of World War II (five bishops, 177 other clergymen). “Carl Lampert, an Austrian priest who was killed by the Nazis in 1944 and beatified in his native country.” [https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-praises-newly-beatified-priest-killed-by-nazis]
Replacing the Feast of the Lemures with the Communion Of Saints (“of the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs and confessors, of all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world”). In addition, there is Reformation Sunday, which is observed on or before 31 October, to celebrate Christ’s victory over death. Give your godchildren Allerheiligenstriezel, light a candle for every Christian. How about “Pangangaluluwa” and “atang” or “hain” for the Filipinos? In Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere, Chapter XII is “All Saints.”
“The one thing perhaps that indisputably distinguishes man from the brute creation is the attention which he pays to those who have passed away and, wonder of wonders! this characteristic seems to be more deeply rooted in proportion to the lack of civilization.
Historians relate that the ancient inhabitants of the Philippines venerated and deified their ancestors; but now the contrary is true, and the dead have to entrust themselves to the living. It is also related that the people of New Guinea preserve the bones of their dead in chests and maintain communication with them. The greater part of the peoples of Asia, Africa, and America offer them the finest products of their kitchens or dishes of what was their favorite food when alive, and give banquets at which they believe them to be present. The Egyptians raised up palaces and the Mussulmans built shrines, but the masters in these things, those who have most clearly read the human heart, are the people of Dahomey.” [http://www.gutenberg.org/files/6737/6737-h/6737-h.htm#d0e2565]
Share your soul cakes with the poor. “I just hope my death makes more cents [sic] than my life.” – Arthur Fleck
Deus, gloria fidelium et vita iustorum, cuius Filii morte et resurrectione redempti sumus, propitiare famulis tuis defunctis, ut, qui resurrectionis nostrae mysterium agnoverunt, aeternae beatitudinis gaudia percipere mereantur.