Monday, November 19, 2007

Fall festivals

I don't really have an argument to make today. I just want to point something out that I find kind of interesting. As just about everybody out there knows, holidays like Christmas and Easter have pagan roots. That is, there used to be non-Christian holidays on those days that Christians sort of took over. Christians started celebrating something entirely different on those days, although they kept some of the trappings, like Christmas trees, and Easter eggs.

Everybody reacts to these things a little differently.

Some people who are not Christians like to throw this in the face of their Christians friends as if they've discovered something that will be embarrassing to the Christians or as if it somehow amounts to an argument against Christianity.

Some Christians, most notably Jehovah's Witnesses, take the non-Christians seriously and seem to think there's something inappropriate about celebrating Christmas or Easter since they both have pagan origins.

Some Christians see nothing wrong with celebrating the birth of Jesus or the resurrection of Jesus, even if done on the same day as a pagan festival as long as you're celebrating something completely different. They're uncomfortable with some of the trappings, though. Others are even okay with the trappings as long as they have been stripped of their original significance and serve merely as decoration and jolly good fun.

What we have seen in the past is happening in our own day. Some Christians who are especially averse to Halloween are now celebrating what they call "fall festival." And they have kept many of the trappings--children dressing up in costumes and gathering candy in baskets. It is sanitized only by avoiding costumes of anything scary or supernatural, and by gathering the candy at church instead of door to door.

The funny thing about that to me is that this Christianization of a pagan holiday was already done once before to Halloween. All Hallows Eve or All Souls Day was turned into all Saints Day. But that seems to have been completely abandoned. Now we're just having fall festivals.

And it's funny that the Christian alternative to Halloween would be a fall festival since even in some pagan traditions, Halloween was a harvest festival. What do fall festivals or harvest festivals have to do with anything specifically Christian? Every agricultural society has had harvests, and they usually have them in the fall. It is strange to me that this Christianization of an otherwise "bad" holiday isn't really Christian at all. It isn't anti-Christian, of course. It's just not specifically Christian. I mean nothing particularly Christian is being celebrated.

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