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Hallow Days – A Rural Perspective

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My favorite time of year is approaching and it’s kicking off with Halloween next week.  All over we see posts about celebrating this holiday, particularly if you’re a Christian.  We hear about it’s pagan roots and modern connotations.  We hear about how costumes are too violent, too blood, too short, too revealing, too adult or too immature.  We hear about commercialization and rituals.  We hear a lot about this day.

My good blog-friend Sarah writes a great post from a Catholic (yup, we’re one of them) point of view of celebrating Halloween as part of a three-day “Hallowed Days” holiday – All Hallows, All Saints and All Souls.  Personally I really like the way she approaches this and it’s the way I want to raise my kids to celebrate this time of year.  I don’t want Halloween to be just about costumes and candy, but rather a little bit more.

Before I started attending Mass (pre-Catholic husband and new baby) I looked at this time of year from the viewpoint of my family.  I’m from a long line of farmers and this time of year is very important to us.

If we’re lucky we have everything out of the field as the days until a big frost are inches closer, we’re tallying up bushels and finding out if we’re in the red or the black.

In the days before convenience was a buzz word this was the end of great and busy time of preparation.  It was not too long ago that facing a bad winter unprepared could kill you and this was the time to look in our root cellars, our pantries and at our stacks of wood to get an idea of what type of toll the season would take on us.

It was a time to hurry up and get things done, see folks you might not see for a couple of months if you were lucky and never again if your weren’t.  There were still a couple of months of the days getting shorter, and even after that many months before the earth warmed again.  It was a long season.  At the end of fall you started to remember the fear a bad winter could bring.

So to me Halloween/Samhain/All Hallow’s whatever you call it is more a time of celebration.  It is a time to celebrate hard work and, hopefully, success.  It is a time to eat your fill and see friends and family.  It is a brief window of time between relaxation and uncertainty and when there’s a celebration to be had a little mischief often comes hand in hand.

So for us we will make it a celebration.  We will dress up (though we don’t do gory or risqué), we will visit neighbors and friends, we will share food and drink and have a good time.  We will look at the season yet to come and show no fear.  The next day we will reflect on those who faced fear and made  great sacrifices and then we will remember those who are not with us and reflect on how the greatest sacrifice gives us great peace when we face the unknown.

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