Thursday, October 31, 2013


THE FAVORITE HOLIDAYS IN THE US Halloween 2013 should be less scary in the United States than last year's holiday, when the monstrous Hurricane Sandy savaged parts of the U.S. Northeast. Despite the storm, 2012 featured record participation and spending that, even with a small 2013 downturn, show Halloween's steady growth as a prominent date on the American social calendar. Today's mix of parties, pranks, and profit is a far cry from Halloween's ancient origins. Over the centuries the celebration has seen a lot of changes. 
Halloween's origins date back more than 2,000 years. On what we consider November 1, Europe's Celtic peoples celebrated their New Year's Day, called Samhain (SAH-win). On Samhain eve - what we know as Halloween - spirits were thought to walk the Earth as they traveled to the afterlife.

Fairies, demons, and other creatures were also said to be abroad. In addition to sacrificing animals to the gods and gathering around bonfires, Celts often wore costumes - probably animal skins - to confuse spirits, perhaps to avoid being possessed. By wearing masks or blackening their faces, Celts are also thought to have impersonated dead ancestors. Young men may have dressed as women and vice versa, marking a temporary breakdown of normal social divisions.
In an early form of trick-or-treating, Celts costumed as spirits are believed to have gone from house to house engaging in silly acts in exchange for food and drink - a practice inspired perhaps by an earlier custom of leaving food and drink outdoors as offerings to supernatural beings.

Celtic's Samhain celebration was later transformed as Christian leaders co-opted pagan holidays. In the seventh century Pope Boniface IV decreed November 1 All Saints' Day, or All Hallows' Day. The night before Samhain continued to be observed with bonfires, costumes, and parades, though under a new name: All Hallows' Eve - later “Halloween.” European immigrants brought Halloween to the United States. Halloween is always big business, it is considered that an Average American is spending $75 on Halloween in 2013 and the total expenditures for the holiday in the US, should reach $6.9 billion. In today's society, everyone, to some extent, pays tribute to the Market God. The festivals, like Halloween, is another example. We use our ability to buy in order to pacify the uncontrolled desires and thus we increase consumerism, without inquiring about the origin of these celebrations. One reason for this loss of control of desires is that we live dominated by our own mind, which delights itself in torturing us again and again. At every moment the mind wants something new, and when we get it, the mind tells us it does not want that thing anymore. Then, it starts wanting something else. Such is the alienation caused by the desire to buy and own material goods that we have lost the ability to distinguish between what is necessary and useless. We should pacify the mind and occupy it in the service of God. We must use our energy to enthuse others to control their desire to consume and search for the shelter of the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord. Only then we will feel true satisfaction. (Editor's note).

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”

Published by dasavatara das - “Vedic Views on World News”

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