I am all for Halloween parties, parades, getting dressed up, and going Trick or Treating. I don’t believe in ghosts (at least the popular notion of what a ghost is) but I do believe in ghost stories. If you looked up over the front door of the rectory on All Hallow’s Eve Night, you would have seen my (hastily) carved pumpkin glowing.
The key is, however, that these are not odd ways of behaving floating out there on their own. They are an extension of what happens at the celebration of the Mass first. That is what (and always has) gives meaning all of these otherwise odd behaviors we exhibit at this time of year. The Christian community comes together to celebrate all of the saints (especially those not officially recognized) and in our joy we burst forth from the church doors to continue the celebration in our homes with candy and music and costumes.
If it were not for a grounding in faith, this season would be a sign of a slight madness that overtakes our nation. Why go about disguised as someone (or something) else on this particular day? If we are going to unmoor it from its religious roots, why not change it so that it is always on a Friday and make it a three day weekend? Or better yet, move it to early October when the weather is better. Why not make every Friday a costume day? Why give random strangers candy only once a year? Why take a gourd and carve a face on it? Why not just buy a ceramic one that you can re-use every year and be done with it? Or if it is so cool, just leave it up year round. Without faith, scratch too deeply and all of these celebrations become inane. Fun perhaps - but inane.
Thanksgiving is coming up. Without God, what exactly are we giving thanks for? “Thank you turkey for being food and letting us eat you.” As if the Turkey had any say. “Thank you Mom for making this fantastic meal!” But she makes dinner every day and why make her do it on a day when we are thanking her for making food? “Thank you for being my friends/family” might cut it but why do it especially on this day? Do it another day when things are not so pressing. “Thank you cosmos for being as you are instead of another way.” Maybe. But if existence is pure happenstance, it means there is nothing to thank or to be thanked that matters.
But if there is a Creator who provides and we know things do not have to be as they are, we give thanks because we are debtors. It reminds us of The Other. We are paupers who need to remember we are all in this boat together so don’t let your pride get too high. And these are things to celebrate.
If there is no God (at least a Pagan god), to Hades with all of the tinsel, the Rabbit, and the shoes placed outside the door. It is absolutely silly. Let’s just do our own thing when it is convenient for us, with music we actually like to hear ,when we like to hear it. I’ll shop for you when there is a sale and let’s worry about things that really matter like Flag Day.