We can all see what is happening in the world around us. How we, as a consumer culture, have chosen to celebrate the ancient celebration of Halloween is a prime example.
Exaggeration seems to be the name of the game. It seems to me as if we are all trying to out-do each other. Has it really become a race to see who can go over-the-top and create the most outlandish costume, the most grotesque, the most horrifying, the most spine-tingling, the most bizarre? And for what reason?
The first documentation of Halloween or All Saints Day can be traced back to Diocletian´s brutal treatment of Jesus followers in the year 397. Followers of Jesus began to gather together to remember the countless lives of those who had been tortured and brutally killed by the Roman Emperor and his predecessors. They gathered together to share a meal and they prayed for each other under candlelight.
500 hundred years later in the 800´s the festival lived on and was imported into Irish culture and replaced the Celtic festival of Samhain. All Saints Day had become a lively festival, celebrating the late harvest of apples, pears and pumpkins. The Irish made the point of going door to door to pray for families in their villages who had lost loved ones in the last year. As a tolken of thanks they were given a soul-cake. And so began what today has been exaggerated into "Trick or Treat".
700 hundred years later, in the 1500´s, the Spaniards brang their festival to Mexico. All Saints Day was combined with the Aztec festival for remembering the dead with its construction of altars and brighly painted skeleton costumes to attempt to bring back the spirits of the dead. And so began the idea of dressing up in costumes to honor the dead.
Fast forward another 500 hundred years and we find ourselves living in a global society... a society largely inspired by the likes of Hollywood. Mix it together with consumer capitalism and you have a giant recipe for exaggeration and misinterpretation.
I am saddened to see how modern Norway has responded to Halloween. Only since 2000 has Halloween made a real impact here. What is Norway´s contribution? Our stores have certainly decided what think everybody wants. But what have you decided? How will you react? Will you let the mainstream decide for you?
Do we need to invent more evil and darkness? Are we not suffering already? Do we need more excuses to buy more and more candy? Are we dressing up our children as demons?
Why not save the best and leave the rest? Why not look for the best expressions of Halloween, and simply leave behind what does not bennifit ourselves or others?
Our family just threw an amazing block party. We made personal invitations to all of the families with children in our neighborhood. We invited to a costume party with the simple request for "no scary costumes". We spent the week decorating the house with candles, leaves, pumpkins, apples and like. We created a party play-list with traditional Celtic music (James Gallaway). We made a giant pot of Chili-con-carne and filled our house with cakes and doughnuts. We took the best things from Halloween through the ages and turned in into something ours, something that we could give to our neighbors. It was a party full of laughter. We made new friends. We made lasting memories. Our neighborhood is getting closer. We are starting to realize that we are better together.
What are you doing with the darkness?