Ah, now this seems more like a discussion. As to my misunderstandings I don't know that I have any regarding the topic, but I'm open to the potentiality.
We don't do Halloween, more because of my wife than myself. I do back her up in this I'm just not as adamant about it as she is. I understand the nastiness of the Celtic orgins and the glorification of evil that has been promoted recently but, I also remember the more innocent fun I had as a kid. We won't give out candy that night, I wouldn't impose this view on anyone who disagreed though.
As to horror movies, don't do that, not at all, don't see anything good in them.
I'm just going to pretend I didn't see this. I'll be much happier in the long run!
Hell, no I'm not.
Strange how the nasty Celts managed to bring these traditions into Christianity with them and the holiday was even recognised by the Church and made official with the all the tidbits that go along with it.
This sounds like the kind of argument you get against Christmas trees; because pagans displayed the heads of their enemies on trees.
Okay, I love learning, and I'm willing (genuinely) to stand corrected if need be. Educate me. What am I misunderstanding a bout the practices of my Celtic ancestors?
Not being psychic, I don't know exactly what you are misunderstanding. I don't know what you think are the nasty Celtic practices behind Samhain. Love to chat about this, actually, because I'm fascinated by the little we know about preChristian Celts. But my point is that the preChristian aspects of Samhain were carried into the lives of Christian Celts and are present in Halloween celebrations, without being perceived as nasty, evil, or spiritually damaging by those early Christians. Halloween being a Christian redesignation of the holy day of Samhain seems no different to me than the Christian redesignation of the the winter solstice, the natalis invicti, the feast of the invicible sun, on the 25th December, to the Birth of Christ.
Personally, I think that you guys in America have the opportunity to return this holiday to Christendom, to take advantage of its Christian heritage. So stop being such wimps and bring it on back to us, instead of shunning it like it's something of the devil!
Regarding nasty practices I'm referring to practices such as divinations and interaction with the dead, which is an entirely different thing to me in Orthodoxy than it is in the ancient pre-Christian Celtic religions. It is believed by many that the Celtic religion included such things as head hunting and human sacrifice. I know, not all the experts agree on this, but for my part given what I've read of ancient accounts and modern archeology, and the idea that many early cultures had such practices I believe it to be more likely these things were done than that they weren't. So that then is the context in to which I put Celtic practices that gave birth to the modern holiday of Halloween. Mind I'm not saying that Samhain itself was a celebration that included these practices just that to me they're part of the overarching context.
Sure, no one who had celebrated Halloween ever wanted to have contact with the dead. Remember Halloween is the cleaned up version of the ancient holy day. It is a time of remembering the dead; praying for them. The pre-Christian aspects of opening one's hope for the dead, putting out food and drink for them is dropped in favour of "party time" with the living. (Though, the Celts did that, too!)
Head hunting and human sacrifice was common from what I have read, too. The Celts considered it a great honour to take the head of their dead opponent; honouring the dead opponent, I mean. Nasty things happen in war to this day. The pre-Christian Sarmations took scalps! Human beings are odd critters. But with regard to human sacrifice, I doubt that at the time there were any more proficient than the Romans at human sacrifice, whose games were in honour of the gods and thousands died in a sitting. Of course, they might have called it something else, but it was still human sacrifice. The Romans practised various forms of human sacrifice; from Etruscans (or, according to other sources, Sabellians), they adopted the original form of gladiatorial combat where the victim was slain in a ritual battle. During the early republic, criminals who had broken their oaths or defrauded others were sometimes "given to the gods" (that is, executed as a human sacrifice). The Rex Nemorensis was an escaped slave who became priest of the goddess Diana at Nemi by killing his predecessor. Prisoners of war were buried alive as offerings to Manes and Di Inferi (gods of the underworld). Archaeologists have found sacrificial victims buried in building foundations. Ordinarily, deceased Romans were cremated rather than buried. Captured enemy leaders, after the victorious general's triumph, would be ritually strangled in front of a statue of Mars, the war god. Dionysius of Halicarnassus refers to a sacrifice of Argei in the Vestal ritual that might have originally included sacrifice of old men. According to Pliny the Elder, human sacrifice was formally banned during the consulship of Publius Licinius Crassus and Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus in 97 BCE, although by this time it was so rare that the decree was largely symbolic. Most of the rituals turned to animal sacrifice like taurobolium or became merely symbolic. A Roman general might bury a statue of his likeness to thank the gods for victory. However, activities with a ritual origin and similarities to human sacrifice, such as the gladiatorial games and some forms of execution, continued for many years, and grew in popularity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_sacrifice
Once the Celts became Christian, of course the ghastly things were curtailed, their more innocuous traditions added where the symbolism fitted. The Church saw no problem in adding them to the pile. It's the same with any culture touched by Christianity.
About pagan practices carried over into Christianity my initial reaction is that I'm not sure that was good in either situation. But I had always attributed that to the Western Church and my Protestant background, not Calvinist was still always at least, suspicious of Rome. I'm new enough to the Eastern Church that this may change. I'm still working on major doctrinal mind shifts at this point and haven't had time to get into things like, should my outlook on holidays change. Of course that could be part of what being on this thread is about.
But remember they are no longer pagan practices, once they become identified with Christ. We have been always able to accept traditions without them being explicitly Christian; it's part of our history. Symbolism was very strong in the ancient world. It didn't stop with one becoming Christian. If one saw eternal life in the everlasting green decorations of Saturnalia, or the circle of Celtic Druidism it was included for its reference to a belief in Christ. There's a story of St Patrick drawing a cross through the Celtic circle and making the first Celtic Cross. Supposedly, the Druids he was speaking to converted on the spot. Not sure how true that is, but it does seem to be quite a strong legend, so one is given to wonder.
So do we have an opportunity to return this holiday to Christendom? You know, I really don't feel strongly one way or the other and could be persuaded to go the direction you suggest if my wife didn't feel as strongly about it as she does. For example the Orthodox Church we were at last Sunday had a Fall Festival with Pumpkin carving and apple bobbing for the kids, which I thought was kinda cool and would likely be the sort of thing you're talking about. Yeah, running from the world around us isn't good, and I could tell as a few interesting stories about things I've done as a biker with Christian colors, but again some things we feel strongly about and have the time and energy to feel strongly about and some things we don't.
I don't expect there to be a great revival.
But I do see it as an opportunity, to at least not look like the grumpy people on the block, to be in touch with our neighbour in the spirit of love.