'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
HALLOWEEN HAS RELIGIOUS ORIGINS
Next week is Halloween. Like most holidays on the calendar, Halloween has religious origins. In fact, the word holiday itself is a contraction of the two words “holy” and “day.”
In ancient times—for example, back when people had only dial-up Internet service—all the special days during the year were religious festival days. Even today, in our secular culture, there still is a religious component to holidays. Whenever we can sleep late on a Monday morning because it is, say, Memorial Day, most people exclaim in prayerful rapture, “Thank God I don’t have to go to work today!”
The word Halloween also is a contraction of religious words: “hallowed” and “eve.” This, admittedly, is a little harder to decipher than the simple “holy day” contraction. As an expert in the field of religious origins (by virtue of the fact that I exclaim louder than most, “Thank God I don’t have to go to work today!”), let me explain. November 1st is All Saints Day on the Catholic Church calendar, a holy day of obligation. (The word obligation, by the way, in the American Catholic dictionary now means: “If I feel like it.”)
The night before All Saints Day, October 31st, is the evening, or “eve,” of the day commemorating all the “hallowed” ones. So by combining these two words we get the name of this holiday: Flag Day. No wait, I’m sorry, I mean: Halloween. (It was suppose to be “Halloweve,” but the guy who invented the calendar, Phineas Hallmark, was a lousy speller.)
It’s very easy to see the religious components of Halloween. After all, if you truly want to honor the memory of all the saints who have gone before us, the only logical thing to do is dress up as a pirate and demand chocolate from total strangers.
The religious component of other holidays also is evident if you take the time to look closely. For example, when we want to commemorate the birth of the Savior in Bethlehem, we of course are compelled to go into the woods, chop down a tree, and put it in our living room until it becomes a fire hazard—just like the apostles did 2,000 years ago, as described in the Gospel of St. Luke.
And if we want to celebrate the Resurrection, the most obvious thing to do is paint hard-boiled eggs and eat chocolate—again, just like the apostles did, as described in the Gospel of St. Matthew.
Others holidays are named after religious saints, such as St. Patrick, St. Valentine, and St. Groundhog.
One of my favorite holidays is Thanksgiving, a day created to give thanks to the Lord for the fact that instead of a three-day holiday weekend, we are blessed with a FOUR-day holiday weekend. However, for people who work in the retail business, Thanksgiving is not a joyous holiday. It is instead the beginning of the stressful Christmas shopping season. People in the retail business honor this extended period of sorrow with much weeping and gnashing of teeth—just like the apostles did 2,000 years ago, as described in the Gospel of St. MasterCard.
Anyway, getting back to Halloween, it seems to me that people are not celebrating this holiday quite as much as in the past. My observation is based on the fact that in recent years, after the trick-or-treaters have come and gone, our bowl of individually-wrapped mini candy bars is still three-quarters full. Once again I’ll be forced to spend the first week of November overdosing on chocolate—just like the apostles did 2,000 years ago, as described in the Gospel of St. Hershey.
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