A couple of years ago we enrolled our daughter in a religious school. We’re not religious ourselves, but it was a nice school in a good area with great teachers and an endearing principal. The year didn’t go as well as we had hoped, with the final straw coming on Halloween.
Whilst doing my veggie shopping I came across some American-style big orange pumpkins. I bought one for fun and we carved it up and hollowed it out just like we’d seen in the movies. My daughter was so excited and took it to school the next day to show her friends. Well, excitement quickly turned to tears as she was called a devil worshipper and a Satanist by her peers. One child even told her that she shouldn’t be allowed into the nativity play that year because she was not one of them.
Wow! I thought we knew a little more about discrimination in this country having been through Apartheid, but I guess that these lessons haven’t yet filtered through to all of our citizens. We can’t really blame the kids – lessons of discrimination are taught at home.
I do understand that the origins of Halloween are less than savoury, but to my kids (as I’m sure to most) Halloween is about pumpkins and dressing up and eating loads of sweets. Full stop.
If we’re going to judge it by it’s beginnings and assume that all people who celebrate Halloween are Satanists, then we must assume that all people who celebrate Christmas or Easter are Pagans. (Easter, named after the Goddess Eostre, is the Pagan festival of fertility – hence the bunnies and eggs. Christmas was the celebration of the birth of the sun god celebrated at the conclusion of the winter solstice – therefore all the greenery, lights and gift giving).
Or perhaps we can leave all this history behind us and just enjoy the festivals that we’d like to enjoy and leave others to celebrate theirs without judgement or discrimination. After all, as I said to my daughter on this occasion, if you can see the devil in a child’s carved pumpkin, you’re going to see the devil everywhere.
Happy Halloween (to those of you who celebrate it!)