Can someone explain Halloween to me? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 28 Old 10-21-2007, 02:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm sorry for my ignorance :, but I had been living in this country for 15 years and still don't know the meaning of Halloween. Can someone enlighten me?
Also, I had bee reading the long "Anti-Evangelists, would this offend you?" thread and had come across comments like: "I'm Christian and celebrate Halloween". What exactly are you celebrating? The thing is I am a Christian too and I enjoy Halloween holiday because to me personally (I don't want to offend anyone who is celebrating it for other purposes) is just an excuse to dress up my kid in the custom and have fun. It's like an atheist who celebrates Christmas by getting together with the family and exchanging gifts.

So again, in case my question/statement is offensive, please note, I don't mean it to be, it's simply that I don't know.
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#2 of 28 Old 10-21-2007, 03:32 PM
 
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Halloween is big in america because america is big on spending and celebrating any of it's holidays! New york has a St. Patricks days parade for crying in the rain. Valentines sells tons of flowers and chocolate, and Easter is all about the bunny and eggs and toys! Thanksgiving is as much food ad you can hold and the more the merrier! each holiday you can decorate the house, the patio, the mailbox, the door, the table, the kitchen, and even the car!

Basics of halloween. Pagan cultures in Europe held high holy days and half holy days when catholics were still just growing as leaders of the leftover roman empire. Romans exchanged holy days for thier own Gods and then Singular "God" & assigned corresponding St's to seperate holy days that were important to the agricultural tribes they were assimliating. So a few sun holy days were according to agricultural calendar, and a few moon holy days. Moon for Female, therefore considered the follower, or the dark or the deep mystery holy days and the Sun Male, holy days for the leader, the shiny, the openly understood. Both were considered equal so the catholic church worked hard to assimlate these agricultural tribes and give them common language and beliefs etc. Where they matched St's or holy people with the holy day they were successful and where the celebration centered around God and his followers and the faithful they were successful. Where the St's were badly matched (not corresponding with the same element of the holy day) then they had ...problems and therefore shunned the holy day entirely. May day and Halloween represent bad matching. Mayday was seriously crushed five hundred years ago for a long time. So we don't follow it anymore. It was a wild adult holy day meant for marriages, multiple huge numbers of people were allowed a "one day" "one day and year" "one eternity" type of marriages and they were informal and carefree in europe and practiced fairly commonly. Bonfires, jumping thr broom, handfasting, binding of the rope around the couple to keep them tied in soul, etc., were all considered evil and wrong and the church had mercenaries crush this holyday in multple ways and the guilt was added of course.

Halloween was the day of the dead. The veil of the real world and the next is thinnest, the wronged do mischief, the evil play bad tricks, and the good find rest. So dressing up in costumes, the horror films, the make up, the candy the jack o lanterns are relics of times when; you could take on another shape to play you were someone else, leave pumkins with lights in your house to scare away bad spirits and pranks, and leave goodies on the doorstep for the evil to be sated beore they entered the house. Obviously, a saint for this holy day was badly matched, and the holy day was not easily subverted because this handled peoples angry for a whole year in one night, breaking houses, taking food, playing pranks, being a scary somthing else appealed to people and has for thousends of years.

Now to the real reason it's ...debated in american churches. Americans are formed from the beginning of mostly protestants who had tired of the roman catholic abuses and inability to uphold every virtue they were claiming, they protested the church and were attacked as vicisiouly and cruelly as the pagans who didn't like being told when to hold weddings. So, they feld countries and founded amaerica and then they did the same thing to the indians as happened tot them in europe and assimliated thanksgiving and so on. Protestant churches here dislike the old holy day because it's pagan in origin and therefore must be bad and wrong. The effect of fearing bad spirits and appeaseing them is ...supersitious and not healthy in the eyes of most protestant churches (going against gods will and possibly not giving him full power by idol worship if you beief in evil spirits etc.,) and worse, the concept of giving candy to little "devils" dressed up for mischeif and needing appeasment to keep from harming a home is considered a really big deal. The fact that it is a very tame commercialed holy pagan day only makes the formal church people very irriated and sad at society. Protestant faiths cannot reconcile God allowing this holy day tradition and encouraging it. Frankly, I'd get into a very very very serious discussion with any pastor who is against it and end up making them feel ashamed of thier faith history because it's as faulty and spotted as any pagans, and because easter is no longer focused on the christ risen, and valentines is allowed and thats a pagan tradition of freedom from dark months of hardship...(winter leaving) and St. patricks day? One island tradition.., and christmas? the tree is pagan (germanic based old tribes threw animal guts on the tree to represent offering god the best of thier meal to welcome him to thier table to please him to give backl the sun ! Not very shiny happy baby birth!...that needed work. Besides, by the time the church came into the picture the tribes had turned agricultural and were useing pretty greenery with food atttached for birds to feed on and no more with the evergreen covered in blood...so that tradition was about big food anyway and easy to convert.) the weaths, the colors, the time on the calendar!

There are rants galore about it but mainly, day of the dead holy days are all over the world and this is ours. Churches who are not reconciled and willing to teach it fully if they are oppased are simply not dealing with it's spiritual impact on humans. Costumes and candy and playing with being someone else is an outlet for stress and hardships we face, we need it as much as the purity of christmas and both are the struggle we face as human.
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#3 of 28 Old 10-21-2007, 11:18 PM
 
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Any misspellings or grammatical errors in the above statement are intentional;
they are placed there for the amusement of those who like to point them out.
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#4 of 28 Old 10-21-2007, 11:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, Miajean! Thanks so much for putting time into writing your post. So interesting!
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#5 of 28 Old 10-22-2007, 01:32 AM
 
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As a Pagan it's observed as Samhain, the third (final) harvest sabbat on the Wheel of the Year. (Not all Pagans keep the sabbats. I do, however. Additionally, some Pagans prefer to keep Samhain seperate from secular Halloween.) We honor the death of the year, and the place death has in the cycle of life- both in the obvious ways such as how we all will die one day, and the more subtle like the death of food so we can eat, death to ego, death to destructive behaviors, and etc.

We pay tribute to our deceased friends, ancestors, pets, and others at an altar. We cook meals that honor them. (My Ds's fave aspect of the sabbat LOL) We believe that the seperation between the living and the dead is quite thin at this time, and communication is easier and energies/influences stronger. Divination is often done on Samhain.

Secular Halloween has lots of religious roots tying it down. Way way way back in the day the church wanted people to look toward them and less toward "superstition" and other similar things. Lots of Pagan things were adopted into the emerging religious orders. The focus on death at this time of year is natural, but society has managed to mix it all up with gore and horror. Death is a big concept, and often people toy with big concepts to make them easier to face.

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#6 of 28 Old 10-22-2007, 01:34 AM
 
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All my books are still packed in boxes so I can't reference. But I will say please please seek out the History section of the bookstore for info not the New Age section and not the internet as the amount of false info on the history of holidays is sadly rampant. Seriously.
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#7 of 28 Old 10-22-2007, 01:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Arduinna View Post
All my books are still packed in boxes so I can't reference. But I will say please please seek out the History section of the bookstore for info not the New Age section and not the internet as the amount of false info on the history of holidays is sadly rampant. Seriously.
I will. Sorry, I don't really have time to get out to bookstores these days. If you have a suggestion of the book that I can order on amazon, please feel free to let me know, as I can easily pick up a book with false information. Seriously.
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#8 of 28 Old 10-22-2007, 01:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by UnschoolnMa View Post
As a Pagan it's observed as Samhain, the third (final) harvest sabbat on the Wheel of the Year. (Not all Pagans keep the sabbats. I do, however. Additionally, some Pagans prefer to keep Samhain seperate from secular Halloween.) We honor the death of the year, and the place death has in the cycle of life- both in the obvious ways such as how we all will die one day, and the more subtle like the death of food so we can eat, death to ego, death to destructive behaviors, and etc.

We pay tribute to our deceased friends, ancestors, pets, and others at an altar. We cook meals that honor them. (My Ds's fave aspect of the sabbat LOL) We believe that the seperation between the living and the dead is quite thin at this time, and communication is easier and energies/influences stronger. Divination is often done on Samhain.

Secular Halloween has lots of religious roots tying it down. Way way way back in the day the church wanted people to look toward them and less toward "superstition" and other similar things. Lots of Pagan things were adopted into the emerging religious orders. The focus on death at this time of year is natural, but society has managed to mix it all up with gore and horror. Death is a big concept, and often people toy with big concepts to make them easier to face.
Thank you for info. I had no idea about any of it. Some fascinating stuff.
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#9 of 28 Old 10-22-2007, 01:50 AM
 
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I'm sorry, we moved less than a week ago and like I posted all my books are in boxes still, except my cookbooks
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#10 of 28 Old 10-22-2007, 02:08 AM
 
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It's like a Celtic day of the dead. The veil between the spirit world and the real world thins. Spirits come back home to "check on things" and you leave a table of treats outside to mollify them. Over time, the poor realized they could glean this food on this night and no one would bother them, accuse them of stealing or such because everyone else was cowered inside in front of a roaring fire. They could take the treats without "tricks" or recourse.

There was no devil in this story at all. The only story of the devil and Samhain is the Jack o' lantern. The devil gave Jack an ember to guide him back to the world of the living and Jack, being a crafty fellow, carved a turnip to protect his little ember from going out!
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#11 of 28 Old 10-22-2007, 02:14 AM
 
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you are reminding me of the Daily Breakfast podcast with Father Roderick. He did a hilarious Halloween video podcast last year about a Jack O Lantern?

ok back to your regularly scheduled thread.
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#12 of 28 Old 10-22-2007, 02:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm sorry, we moved less than a week ago and like I posted all my books are in boxes still, except my cookbooks
You mean you don't remember the titles and authors by heart? Just kidding!
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#13 of 28 Old 10-22-2007, 02:35 PM
 
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In Latin American countries, it's the Day of the Dead - el Dia de los Muertos - and they celebrate the memories and give food , flowers, and gift offerings to all the loved ones who have passed on. It's not considered morose or gloomy at all, it's full of love. That doesn't mean you can't have fun with skeleton costumes and candy skulls though

There are a lot of festivals that go on in Latino countries and it's a big deal.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day_of_the_Dead
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#14 of 28 Old 10-22-2007, 04:28 PM
 
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In Latin American countries, it's the Day of the Dead - el Dia de los Muertos - and they celebrate the memories and give food , flowers, and gift offerings to all the loved ones who have passed on. It's not considered morose or gloomy at all, it's full of love. That doesn't mean you can't have fun with skeleton costumes and candy skulls though

There are a lot of festivals that go on in Latino countries and it's a big deal.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day_of_the_Dead
on that note wikipedia has a lot of info about Halloween as well:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween
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#15 of 28 Old 10-22-2007, 06:10 PM
 
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Pretty good so far, except that pumpkins are a "new world" fruit, and so were never used by the pre-Christian Celts.

Also, Lughnassadh, 01 August by modern reckoning, was the holiday at which Tailtean/Teltown marriages: the year and a day ones, were made, not Samhain. I did a service at our UU about that holiday back in July.

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#16 of 28 Old 10-22-2007, 09:42 PM
 
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The Christian Origins of Halloween:
"Halloween" is a name that means nothing by itself. It is a contraction of "All Hallows Eve," and it designates the vigil of All Hallows Day, more commonly known as All Saints Day. ("Hallow," as a noun, is an old English word for saint. As a verb, it means to make something holy or to honor it as holy.) All Saints Day, November 1, is a Holy Day of Obligation, and both the feast and the vigil have been celebrated since the early eighth century, when they were instituted by Pope Gregory III in Rome. (A century later, they were extended to the Church at large by Pope Gregory IV.)

The Pagan Origins of Halloween:
Despite concerns among some Christians in recent years about the "pagan origins" of Halloween, there really are none. The first attempts to show some connection between the vigil of All Saints and the Celtic harvest festival of Samhain came over a thousand years after All Saints Day became a universal feast, and there's no evidence whatsoever that Gregory III or Gregory IV was even aware of Samhain.

In Celtic peasant culture, however, elements of the harvest festival survived, even among Christians, just as the Christmas tree owes its origins to pre-Christian Germanic traditions without being a pagan ritual.

The vigil or eve of the feast, October 31, is commonly known as All Hallows Eve, or Halloween. Despite concerns among some Christians (including some Catholics) in recent years about the "pagan origins" of Halloween, the vigil was celebrated from the beginning—long before Irish practices, stripped of their pagan origins (just as the Christmas tree was stripped of similar connotations), were incorporated into popular celebrations of the feast.
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#17 of 28 Old 10-23-2007, 09:41 AM
 
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Ok, now, "Celtic peasant trandition" is different than "pagan ritual" Huh?

A day to celebrate "All Saints" may have nothing to do with Samhain, but obviously those "peasant" traditions made their way into "All Hallows Eve" (Oh wait, this kinda sounds like remembering our beloved dead ancestors....). Oh yeah, and one year, to be a purist, I carved a turnip. I don't recommend it, it was hard.


"no evidence whatsoever that Gregory III or Gregory IV was even aware of Samhain" - if he was really interested in "saving souls" shouldn't he have been more aware of what his "peasants" were doing?

You know, there were no copyright laws back then, so it's not like the pagans of the world are trying to launch a lawsuit. We just want other faiths to look at the true origins of their own customs before they lambast us for being evil.
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#18 of 28 Old 10-23-2007, 12:58 PM
 
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We just want other faiths to look at the true origins of their own customs before they lambast us for being evil.
Exactly!!!

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#19 of 28 Old 10-23-2007, 01:27 PM
 
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The Pagan Origins of Halloween:
Despite concerns among some Christians in recent years about the "pagan origins" of Halloween, there really are none. The first attempts to show some connection between the vigil of All Saints and the Celtic harvest festival of Samhain came over a thousand years after All Saints Day became a universal feast, and there's no evidence whatsoever that Gregory III or Gregory IV was even aware of Samhain.

In Celtic peasant culture, however, elements of the harvest festival survived, even among Christians, just as the Christmas tree owes its origins to pre-Christian Germanic traditions without being a pagan ritual.

The vigil or eve of the feast, October 31, is commonly known as All Hallows Eve, or Halloween. Despite concerns among some Christians (including some Catholics) in recent years about the "pagan origins" of Halloween, the vigil was celebrated from the beginning—long before Irish practices, stripped of their pagan origins (just as the Christmas tree was stripped of similar connotations), were incorporated into popular celebrations of the feast.
Pagan comes from the Latin word 'paganus' meaning rural, or country or rustic... (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paganism) Also one of the early definitions MIGHT be 'non christian'.
Yeah, I'd say there are pagan-country-dwelling origins to Samhain-it simply means there are origins to the holidays that are not judeo-christian in origin-I think that is the point, here.
seriously, I don't get(not trying to be a pain or smart-mouth, I really don't get what is being said in your post) how one can say there aren't pagan origins even in the strictest sense of the word when these practices were before judeo-christian celebrations and celebrated by non-christians. Are you saying that Samhain has no pre-christian origin?

Maybe my brain is fried and I don't get it. sorry.

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#20 of 28 Old 10-23-2007, 01:30 PM
 
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Ok, now, "Celtic peasant trandition" is different than "pagan ritual" Huh?

A day to celebrate "All Saints" may have nothing to do with Samhain, but obviously those "peasant" traditions made their way into "All Hallows Eve" (Oh wait, this kinda sounds like remembering our beloved dead ancestors....). Oh yeah, and one year, to be a purist, I carved a turnip. I don't recommend it, it was hard.


"no evidence whatsoever that Gregory III or Gregory IV was even aware of Samhain" - if he was really interested in "saving souls" shouldn't he have been more aware of what his "peasants" were doing?

You know, there were no copyright laws back then, so it's not like the pagans of the world are trying to launch a lawsuit. We just want other faiths to look at the true origins of their own customs before they lambast us for being evil.
Yup. I love how my grandmother still thinks I am going straight to the eternal flaming abyss for pagan practices yet you bet your behind she dyes more easter eggs than any woman I know...

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#21 of 28 Old 10-23-2007, 04:03 PM
 
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Oh my... I also tried carving turnips one year. Accurate or not, get a squash. Carved turnips are evil.

I agree with many of the pp... holidays and holy days have gotten so jumbled in modern day first world countries that much of the "fuss" seems a bit silly. I suppose (from an anthropological perspective) a lot of the anti-halloween fervor comes from the simpl need to set one's group apart. So members of X group don't do Y, while members of T group would always do R. Whatever the roots once were, it's now a day asociated with all sorts of behaviors and an easy "target" for building group solidarity.

For me however, Halloween as a secular/social holiday has about as much to do with the religious holy day of Samhain as the secular/social mall santa does with the religious holy day of Christmas or Yule. Sure, the north pole get-yer-picture-with-the-jolly-elf happens at the same basic time as christmas/Yule and they have the same roots, but they aren't the same thing. Trick-or-treat and haunted houses certainly happen at the same time of year and have shared roots, but to call these secular activities "religious" is a kind of silly IMO.

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#22 of 28 Old 10-23-2007, 05:07 PM
 
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I couldn't agree more Wombatclay.

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#23 of 28 Old 10-23-2007, 05:33 PM
 
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I agree. It happens at the same time, and it's all related and connect-y deep down, but it's not exactly the same thing. Trick or treating way back has religious roots, but it's a secular activity today I'd say.

Halloween is fun, child like, sweet, and silly. Good stuff!

Samhain (for me at least) is both celebratory and somber. A time for remembering, and looking inward.

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#24 of 28 Old 10-23-2007, 06:17 PM
 
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It's exactly what I am saying. All Souls Day is a day to remember those who have passed and does not pre-date Catholicism.

Now whether anyone wants to acknowledge historical fact or not is another story.
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#25 of 28 Old 10-23-2007, 07:09 PM
 
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All Souls Day is the day Catholics made to mask the peasants' Harvest Festivals. But the two have blended - our modern Halloween is not a pious Catholic observance. Historically you are right, All Souls Day is a Catholic invention. I wonder how the Catholics who started it planned on their people celebrating it...

Really commercialism has stolen the holidays from all of us!
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#26 of 28 Old 10-23-2007, 08:36 PM
 
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Agreed. The two have mixed and it is ALL wonderful.
Commercialism has stolen this day and fundamentalists have ruined it.

We celebrate All Saints Day on Nov 1, All Souls Day on Nov 2. We are going to the vigil on Oct 31 then off for some trick or treating .
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#27 of 28 Old 10-24-2007, 05:44 PM
 
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: I was slightly ranting when I posted.

The histories are badly mismanaged about alot of the practices.
Mayday, Augest and even June were used for marriage festivals. Burning times applied to "witches" midwives, and anyone who wasn't following church stanards. Also the inquisition was simply a madmans cruelty at work on a mass scale (somehow larger groups of angry people seem to gather quite effectively when madmen are around...::looking over the shoulder carefully:.

The dilution and sujugation and assimlation of holydays is practiced by magority cultures everywhere! Though some religions have really the bigger amount killing involved because they are aggressively based.

I find the fact that so many of these holidays we practice and are currently a part of as a culture have plenty of good and bad, when you draw lines in the dirt or holler from a podium, or jump up on a soapbox to claim you're the really perfect one then it really riles me. There are so many points you can gauge by and holler about!

Samhein and "all hallows eve" are old. What they are now, mass culture is hardly what they were or are meant for spiritually. The reflection of that was the center of my post, badly mismanaged cultural assimlation. Badly quoted timeframes added anyway. Halloween, day of the dead. Pray for souls, commune for souls, honor souls, ritual for souls. Thats the point.
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#28 of 28 Old 10-24-2007, 08:20 PM
 
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Mama, I wasn't implying personal or religious perfection- no way.

The holidays have blended for sure- and we reap the benefits and consequences of it. The benefits- Candy, duh. The consequences- loss of the true history/meaning/traditions of both/all religions.
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