From Entertainment to Inner-Attainment
Halloween survived Christianity’s purge of paganism—thank God—and the Irish immigrants fleeing the great 1840’s potato famine brought with them their Halloween customs to America. Jack-o-lanterns first appeared in the Emerald Isle as large turnips carved with demon faces with a tiny light inside. In the States, failing to find turnips large enough, the Irish used pumpkins in their place.
The tricks-or-treats of this holiday weren’t a Celtic custom but began in 9th century Europe for the second day of November—All Souls Day. On that day people visited homes begging treats of square biscuits called soul cakes. This pious practice soon merged with those of All Hallows Eve and was quickly adopted by actual beggars. They would go begging door-to-door for soul cakes in exchange for the promise of prayers they would say for the deceased of that family. As the number of treats equaled the sum of promised prayers, the typical householder was generous to obtain the release of loved ones from purgatory.
The entertainments of this festival of the dead offer an occasion for the inner-attainment of a communion with our beloved dead. By remembering them with a prayer or by gazing lovingly on their photographs we receive a blessing as we make a mystical pilgrimage to their gravesites. In Islam this blessing by God for visiting shrines and a saint’s tomb is called “Baraka.”
All Hallows, the Feast of “All” Saints, is a celebration of your deceased family and friends who are among the inestimable multitude of saints. As a parent would move heaven and hell to assure their children or lover reside in the bliss of heaven, so God unconditionally gifts everyone with eternal life.