Thursday, October 26, 2006

Halloween, Thanksgiving and Purim

.Halloween, Thanksgiving and Purim

What’s a religious holiday and what’s a secular holiday? Even though banks and post offices are closed on December 25, I think most people would recognize that Christmas is a religious holiday. Its status as a “national holiday” does not render it secular; that’s just for the convenience of the overwhelming majority of people in this country.

What about Thanksgiving? (Sorry, Canadians, you’re going to have to work with me on this one. I don’t know enough about Victoria Day or Dominion Day to work them in and I spent my whole “holiday research” budget on Halloween.) Why do so many Jews, including many Orthodox Jews, celebrate Thanksgiving? Doesn’t that have Christian roots, as well?

Well, actually, no. It doesn’t. Despite the fact that it was instituted by the Pilgrims, Thanksgiving is not a religious holiday. Its motivation is to thank G-d for the freedoms we enjoy in America. This is a sentiment shared by citizens of all religions. It is a celebration unique to this country and not associated with any religious group. While there are those Rabbis (Rav Hutner, for example) who opposed any holiday based on the secular calendar as “not Jewish,” a majority (Rav Henkin, Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav Soloveitchik, et al) did not prohibit commemorating Thanksgiving (although Rav Moshe did discourage it for particularly pious people).

So what’s Halloween? Is it a secular holiday like Thanksgiving or a religious holiday like Christmas? The answer lies in its origins.

2,000 years ago, the Celts lived in what is now Ireland, Scotland, the United Kingdom and France. Their new year began on November 1, which for them marked the end of summer and the onset of winter. They believed that the barrier between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred on the night of October 31 as their calendar changed. Spirits of the dead were believed to roam the earth, causing havoc. The Celts also believed that the presence of these spirits enabled the Druids, their priestly class, to predict the future.

October 31 was called Samhain (pronounced sowen) meaning “summer’s end,” after the god of the same name, whom the Celts believed imprisoned the sun god for the winter. To commemorate the day, the Druids built bonfires and the people dressed in costumes made of animal heads and skins.

The Romans had conquered the Celts by 43 CE. They ruled for 400 years and combined two of their own holidays with Samhain. One was Feralia, a holiday commemorating the dead. The other was the holiday honoring Pomona, the goddess of fruit and trees. (Pomona’s symbol was an apple and this is part of the origin of the custom to “bob for apples” on Halloween.)

By the 800s, Christianity had spread into the Celtic lands. The Church was having some trouble getting people to stop celebrating their old pagan holidays, so they decided to assign Christian holidays to coincide with them. November 1 was designated “All Saints Day,” honoring martyrs and saints. October 31 was the eve of All Saints Day, “All Hallows Eve” (from which came the name Halloween). In 1000 CE, November 2 was designated All Souls Day, honoring the dead. Collectively, the three day festival from October 31 through November 2 was called “Hallowmas.”

All Souls Day in England featured parades. During these festivities, the poor would beg for “soul cakes,” which they received in exchange for promises to pray for the donor’s dead relatives. The Church encouraged the practice of soliciting soul cakes to replace the practice of leaving food out to appease wandering spirits. This, of course, is the source of the modern “Trick or Treat.”

Dressing in costume comes from the Celtic tradition of dressing up in animal skins (as described above) and from a European custom. People were afraid that they would encounter ghosts if they went out on Halloween. They dressed up and wore masks to disguise themselves so that the spirits would mistake them for other ghosts.

Halloween traditions were popularized in America in the latter half of the 19th century by Irish immigrants fleeing the great potato famine of 1846. By the middle of the 20th century, “trick or treating” had become associated with vandalism. Harmless mischief perpetrated on those who refused gifts of food or money had grown into acts of property defacement and felonious assault. It continues to be that way in many places today.

It’s ironic that many Fundamentalist Christian groups object to Halloween because of its pagan origins. The same superimposition of Christian holidays over existing pagan holidays was accomplished with Lupercalia (St. Valentine’s Day), Eostre (Easter) and Yule (Christmas).

So what is the origin of Halloween? It’s a combination of Celtic, Roman and Christian holidays. All three are distinctly non-Jewish. No matter how you look at it, Halloween is not a secular holiday.

If you want the joy of dressing up in costume and distributing candy, try Purim. They dress up in costumes to trick spirits; we dress up to commemorate how G-d operated “behind the scenes.” They say “trick or treat” or, in other words, “give me candy or I’ll throw these eggs at your house.” We give gifts of food to our friends and gifts of money to the needy in joyful celebration of G-d’s goodness. Halloween, according to its roots as Samhain, Feralia and All Souls Day, celebrates death. Purim celebrates life in that G-d saved us from our enemies.

Feel the need to put on a costume and eat candy? Try Purim, the “anti-Halloween.”



samuru999 said...

Wow! so much great info here!
I learned a lot!
I like Halloween for all the cute little kids that come to my their costumes...having so much fun... and say, "trick or treat!"
I give them lots of treats!


tshsmom said...

saby you fucking shit fuck off from my blog

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the info...

saby's scabies said...

The syphillis has gone to your brain.

Anonymous said...

hey thnx for sharing the story...
i never knew that...
one again thnx..

starbender said...

hahahaaa, I see U are STILL pissing people off! 2 funny saby!

Holidays sure have weird beginings!
Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays! U can just -cut loose-

Christmas, however, has become one of my least favorite. The Meaning has been completely lost! The whole holiday has become commercialized; I raise 5 children, and it is an imposibility to pull christmas off! Every yr. I become totally depressed. People with money spoil their children at this time of yr. and it is just that more difficult to see the disappointment in U'r childrens eyes. It has become a very sad time of yr. for me, ...I dred it.
: (

Anonymous said...

what if pakistan nukes india ?
During the Cold War, if USA launched a nuke-loaded missile, Soviet
satellites would inform the Soviet army in 3 seconds and in less than 5
seconds Soviet counter missiles would be on their way.This was their

But if there is a nuclear war between India and Pakistan.
The Pakistan army decides to launch a nuke-missile towards India.
They don't need any permission from their government, and promptly
order the countdowns.
Indian technology is highly advanced.
In less than 8 seconds, Indian army detects the Pak Countdown and
decides to launch a missile in retribution.
But they need permission from the Government of India.
They submit their request to the Indian President. The President
forwards it to the Cabinet.
The Prime Minister calls an emergency Lok Sabha session. The LS meets,but due to several walkouts and severe protests by the opposition, it
gets adjourned and adjourned indefinitely.
The President asks for a quick decision.
In the mean time, the Pak missile failed to take off due to technical
failure. Their attempts for a relaunch are still on.
Just then the Indian ruling party is reduced to a minority because a
party that was giving outside support withdraws it.
The President asks the PM to prove his majority within a week.
As the ruling party fails to win the confidence vote, a caretaker
government is installed.
The caretaker PM decides to permit the armed forces to launch a nuclear
But the Election Commission says that a caretaker government can not
take such a decision because elections are at hand.
A Public Interest Litigation is filed in the Supreme Court alleging
misuse of power by the Election Commission.
The Supreme Court comes to the rescue of the PM, and says the acting PM
is authorized to take this decision in view of the emergency facing the nation.

Just then one of the Pak missiles successfully took off, but it fell
367 miles away from the target, on its own government building at

Fortunately there were no casualties as no employee had reached the
office that early.

In any case, the nuclear core of the missile had detached somewhere in
The Pakistan army is now trying to get better technologies from China
and USA.
The Indian Government, taking no chances, decides to launch a nuclear
missile of its own, after convening an all-party meeting.

This time all the parties agree.

Its three months since the army had sought permission. But as
preparations begin, "pro-humanity", "anti-nuclear" activists come out against the Government's decision.

Human chains are formed and Rasta rokos organised.
In California and Washington endless e-mails are sent to Indians like
Kalingaa and all of you, condemning the government and mentioning
"Please forward it to as many Indians as possible".

On the Pakistan side, the missiles kept malfunctioning. Some missiles
deviate from target due to technical failures or high-speed wind
over Rajasthan.

Many of them land in the Indian Ocean killing some fishes.
A missile (smuggled from USA) is pressed into service.

Since the Pakistan army is unable to understand its software, it hits
its original destination: Russia .
Russia successfully intercepts the missile and in retaliation launches
a nuclear missile towards Islamabad.

The missile hits the target and creates havoc.
Pakistan cries for help. India expresses deep regrets for what has
happened and sends in a million dollars worth of Parle-G biscuits.

Thus India never gets to launch the missile.
Pakistan never gets it right.

we live happily ever after!!!!

tshsmom said...

That first comment was NOT posted by me. My guess is it's Vest.

lower deck lawyer said...

Vest does not allow people to post language that is offensive, tshsmom, neither does he use it. Please return to your filth laden gutter and your sniping cronies in the USA.

Anonymous said...


It was 2 'clock in the afternoon and she was hurriedly taking out all her toys from her cupboards to put into the suitcases her ami and baba were packing.Even tough her parents had told her that they could not carry all her toys but she had insisted to take them all. "C'mmon now, we are leaving the house in 10 mins get urselfs ready" her baba had said to her n her 4 years elder brother.
"When will we come back to our home ami?" she asked and before she could get the answer everything becomes dark before her eyes.
At 2:45 the news was flashing on the t.v sets of the rest of the world"ANOTHER ROCKET FIRE AND SEVERAL BLASTS AT THE RESIDENTIAL AREA OF IRAQ KILLING SEVERAL CIVILIANS."

Anonymous said...

saby whats the use of arguing with the like minded people?
ppl who are completely ignorant u dont reach them..join orkut saby and click JOIN NOW

and lets change the world..there are many hate communities and catholics who abuse islam..its a chaotic world.Lets change the world..we need your views and wisdom there and not with southpaw ,ori or starbender who already has rationale.


vest junior (Other) said...

I am having such a great time debunking dung eating yanks.
Sorry to hear of India's losing to the West Indies on Friday, but last night watched England exact revenge for the defeat, a great win for England.
Another sore loser is tshsmom, who is still oozing diarrhea from that box of dung on her shoulders.