Note: This is the eleventh essay in the series of “Why We Love Autumn.” I recently asked some friends who love autumn as much as I do to reflect on what made them so excited for autumn to arrive. The answers will be varied and have a different voice each post. Tiffany and I attended Truett together and attempted to love Autumn, even in Texas. You should definitely order some of her candles. Spicy pumpkin is my favorite! Tiffany blogs here.
In an unofficial survey (conducted by me at random times over the past 10-15 years) 8.5 out of 10 Christians state that Christmas is their favorite holiday. The other 1.5 people claim Easter. I guess that makes makes me the odd woman out.
Halloween is my favorite. Halloween is one reason I adore Autumn; for what’s not to love about Halloween?! You’ve got your candy (enough said) and you’ve got your costumes. Oh, how I love the costumes. Who doesn’t have delightfully awful memories of childhood Halloween costumes? I have terrifying pictures of my 7,8, and 9-year-old self wearing the most hideous plastic masks; masks that made me look like alarmingly creepier versions of She-Rah (Princess of Power), a Hugga Bunch, and a Care Bear.
Apart from the candy and the costumes, there is also a spiritual quality to Halloween that draws me in and enlivens me. I find it challenging to articulate exactly what that quality is, but I recognize it as the same quality that draws me like a magnet into the stories of Edgar Allan Poe and Mary Shelley, or the movies of Tim Burton. These artists deal so poetically with the dark and the mysterious – with death and dying – with the “stuff” of Halloween.
Halloween has a rich and vibrant history in faith traditions as All Hallow’s Eve, or the night before All Soul’s Day. Much like Christmas, however, Halloween has lost its spiritual significance (somewhere in the plastic pumpkin aisle of Wal-Mart, I suspect).
All Hallow’s Eve has become a holiday for the masses, full of ambiguous rituals and icons. How unfortunate that these rituals and icons have lost their meaning. How unfortunate that what was once a two day event set aside for prayers, vigils, and an honoring of the dead has dwindled down to nothing of the sort.
I love Autumn for the foliage, the brisk weather, the cable knits, and the lattes. And I also love Autumn because it offers us Halloween, or All Hallow’s Eve. It offers us a time for meditation on death and life after death.
Just as the season, the landscape, and the trees outside my window are changing from life into bony death so too Halloween encourages me to pause, ponder, and respect that law of nature within myself and within others. It invites me to contemplate death and dying and to honor those whom I have loved deeply and lost already to this beautiful mystery.
And when I begin to take myself and all this death and dying business too seriously, all I need do is remember the candy and the costumes. Oh, the costumes. For what are pint-sized Spidermen, Buzz Lightyears, and Ghosts of the white-sheet-sort with mismatched eyes if not equally compelling glimpses into the mysterious nature of the Divine