Monday, October 31, 2011


TRICK-OR-TREATING DETAILS - Halloween 2011 is finally here. To get into the spirit of the spook-tacular holiday, here are some interesting facts.  Halloween, referred to as All Hallows Eve, was originally a pagan holiday for which the dead were honored. It was celebrated on October 31st since this was the last day of the Celtic calendar. The celebration dates back some 2,000 years.  The ancient Celts thought that spirits and ghosts wandered the streets on All Hallows Eve so they began wearing masks and costumes in order to not be recognized as human.  The jack-o-lantern tradition comes from an old Irish folk tale about a man named Stingy Jack. It was said that he was unable to get into heaven and was turned away from the devil because of his tricky ways. So he set off to wander the world looking for a resting place.  For light, Stingy Jack used a burning coal ember in a hollowed out turnip.

When the Irish immigrated to the U.S. during the Great Potato Famine of 1845-1850, they found that turnips were not as readily available like they were in the homeland. So they started carving pumpkins as a replacement for their tradition.  On Halloween, Irish peasants would beg the rich for food. For those that refused, they would play a practical joke. So, in an effort to avoid being tricked, the rich would hand out cookies, candy, and fruit - a practice that morphed into trick-or-treating today.  Orange and black are Halloween colors because orange is associated with the fall harvest and black is associated with darkness and death.  Halloween candy sales average about $2 billion annually in the United States.  Halloween is the 2nd most commercially successful holiday, with Christmas being the first.  Today, parents and their excited ghosts and goblins are gearing up to go trick or treating. This is a time for little ones to have fun, but parents shouldn’t let the kids’ enthusiasm drown out common sense.

This Halloween, drivers should be aware not only for their own safety, but also for the safety of the little ghosts and goblins who will take to the streets on trick-or-treat night.  Compared to other days of the year, an average of twice as many children are killed in pedestrian accidents on Halloween.  Kids (and drivers alike) need proper safety instruction before heading out on this holiday.  When Holidays involve simply sense enjoyment - which for a child can mean games, presents, fireworks, and special food - we indirectly teach that we are living for material pleasure.

The year is full of holidays and special events unrelated to spiritual life. Even in India, where Janmashtami, the anniversary of Krishna’s divine birth, is a general festival, many other days are dedicated to the country or some ordinary, materialistic person. Outside of India, festival days sometimes even focus on demonic beings such as witches. ... If we wish to raise our children to be absorbed only in thoughts of Lord Krishna, how should we treat these secular holidays? One approach is, as far as possible, to ignore them. ... A second approach, therefore, is to find a way of relating nondevotional celebrations to Krishna. ... For example, one year on Halloween some of my high school girls dressed up as male devotees and went door to door selling Srila Prabhupada’s books. ... If we decide to have our children celebrate mundane occasions in the same way as the materialists, we greatly risk raising children whose idea of happiness is materialistic.

Śrīmati Urmila devi dasi :
“Observing Secular Holidays”

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