All Saints Day

Hey, team CNN: Isn't there some Catholic DNA linked to Halloween being on Oct. 31?

Hey, team CNN: Isn't there some Catholic DNA linked to Halloween being on Oct. 31?

It’s hard to understand what happens in American life, and when it happens, without understanding what I like to call the “liturgical calendar of the shopping mall.”

The best example? That would be the locked-solid fact that the cultural steamroller called “Christmas” now begins somewhere around the start of the National Football League schedule and it kicks into high gear with Black Friday after Thanksgiving. Forget that whole holy season called Christmas, as in the 12 days after Dec. 25.

Oh, and when is Thanksgiving? That was a question for the U.S. Congress and the Chamber of Commerce, as well.

Some people would argue that “The Holidays” — at the level of candy, music and decorations — now start after Halloween. And when is Halloween? At the moment, Halloween is on October 31. Why is that?

That question brings us to an interesting, and rather hollow, CNN story with this headline: “A petition to move Halloween to the last Saturday of October nears 100,000 signatures.” Here is the overture:

There are lots of reasons to hate holidays: traffic, awkward family reunions, expensive gifts that would wring a tear from anyone's wallet. But if there's one celebration absent from all of this holiday drama, it's Halloween.

It's too bad that, more times than not, the sugar-laden holiday is set right in the middle of the week, when would-be revelers have to get to bed early.

But there's a petition aiming to change that. … It’s lobbying to bump Halloween from October 31 to the last Saturday of the month.

The petition, launched last year by the nonprofit Halloween & Costume Association, argues that moving the date of Halloween will lead to a "safer, longer, stress-free celebration."

Wait a minute. A “safer, longer, stress-free celebration” of WHAT, precisely? What is Halloween and why is it observed on October 31?

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What would happen if churches tried to reclaim All Hallows' Eve as their own?

What would happen if churches tried to reclaim All Hallows' Eve as their own?

Greetings, GetReligion readers on this All Hallows' Eve.

If, by chance, you live in a small town or city somewhere in Middle America -- especially in a deep-red Bible Belt zip code -- there is a pretty good chance that your newspaper this morning contains a news-you-can-use item that starts something like this one. The headline: "Fall festivals and Halloween alternatives in the Oklahoma City area."

There's still time to visit fall festivals and Halloween alternative activities offered by area churches during the Halloween season. The following events, set for Saturday, are free, unless otherwise noted:
* Fall Festival, 6:30 to 8 p.m., Portland Avenue Baptist Church. ...
* Trunk or Treat, 6 to 8 p.m., Memorial Presbyterian Church. ...
* Trunk or Treat, 1 to 3 p.m., Trinity Baptist Church. ...
* Trunk or Treat, 6 to 8 p.m., Capitol Hill Assembly of God. ...
* FestiFall, 4 to 6 p.m., Putnam City Baptist Church. ... Big inflatables, candy, games in the building and a hayride will be offered. Parents must accompany children. Costumes welcome; scary costumes are discouraged. 

This list goes on and on, as do the many others like it. You can see the basic cultural DNA that is at work here, especially in the instructions with that Baptist FestiFall item. The key is that these churches are offering, basically, two different approaches to avoiding, or almost avoiding, the growing sort-of secular tsunami (about $6.9 billion in spending this year) called Halloween.

What's up with this? That was the topic of my Universal syndicate "On Religion" column this week, which "Crossroads" host Todd Wilken and I then discussed in this week's GetReligion podcast. Click here to tune that in.

You see, some religious believers are trying to avoid the unsafe or troubling elements of Halloween (thus, the growing "Trunk or Treat" phenomenon), while others are convinced that Halloween itself is, doctrinally speaking, fatally flawed.

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