Monday, November 01, 2004


(Scroll down for the annual Chayyei Sarah quiz!!!)

As we speak, I'm experiencing an aspect of American culture I very much did not miss when I was in Israel this time last year: trick-or-treating.

There are many aspects of Christian-American culture that I do not share, yet can appreciate. Christmas carols and trees, Easter-egg hunts, New Years' countdowns and Auld Lang Syne, that sort of thing. I don't engage in those traditions because they are too connected to Christianity for my taste, but as a religious person and an American, I can see elements that I would enjoy in those traditions were they part of my sub-culture. Even though many of them are commercialized, I can see how religious Christians find meaning and fun in these activities, and how they are harmless and entertaining for secular Americans.

But I do not understand Halloween at all. The whole thing is mean-spirited, literally and figuratively. A holiday (can it be called a holiday if it is an anti-holy day?) dedicated to scary beings of the netherworld, and kids threatening to "trick" you if you don't present them with a "treat"? I don't get it. Is there any religious or spiritual meaning to Halloween at all? Do Christian ministers and priests promote this pagan custom or turn a blind eye to it? Is anyone actively speaking out against it in the American Christian world?

As we say in Hebrew, Halloween is, in my opinion, "lo na-im." In Yiddish we say "pas nicht." English translation: It's just not nice. I'm curious to know what Europeans do to commemorate this night of "All Hallows Eve," or if any readers who celebrate Halloween can given any spin to it other than "it's fun, don't be a party pooper." Anyone?

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