The Other Holiday

This Halloween has gotten me thinking. Most of the time, I am really glad that we live in an area of the country that respects the separation of church and state. Except… we can’t celebrate ANYTHING at our public school. I know that is the right way to be, but I really wish I could send my kid to school in his costume. At my parochial school growing up, we celebrated this time of year. But we didn’t celebrate All Souls Day. We celebrated All SAINTS Day on November 1. That’s right, we would get dress up as our favorite saint and have a Halloween party.

I was really into saint stories when I was growing up. I was always very impressed with extreme behavior. I loved these women who would opt to be tortured as oppose to having sex. So dramatic.

I was really into celebrating All Saints Day. But I ran into issues with my parents over my costume. My favorite saint was Agnes of Rome. She was burned at the stake for her refusal to give up her virginity to some politician’s son. She is often depicting holding a lamb because that is her symbol. I wanted to go as St. Agnes, but I wanted to carry a real lamb, not a stuff animal. My mom said No.

Another saint I liked was St. Lucy. She pledged her virginity to Christ, and gave away her dowry to the poor. A pagan fell in love with her, she refused to marry him, and he turned her into the Roman authorities. They gauged her eyes out with forks. So depictions of her show her carrying around her eyes on a platter. Pretty fabulous, right? My mother didn’t think so and forbid me from going dressed in Roman garbs and a couple of eyeballs on a platter.

I was also into St. Magdalene, but my mom thought she was a bad role model.

I think in the end, I ended up throwing a blue bed sheet over my head and going as the Blessed Virgin Mary. That’s pretty much phoning it in as far as All Saint’s Day celebrations go. As an aside, my mom  and I definitely had religious differences. One fall, I decided I was going to become a saint. I prayed myself into a frenzy and refused to eat. She wasn’t amused. I thought she was the devil’s tool. The conflict intensified until I had my first crush, and I decided I didn’t want to be a saint after all.

But here are my kids, after school, dressed as Little Red and a Pirate. No livestock or eyeballs were hurt in this years trick or treating.

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4 thoughts on “The Other Holiday

  1. I don’t get the Halloween ban. Halloween, whatever its origins, is not celebrated as a religious holiday in the US. For that matter, as a reluctant Hindu and now atheist, I always enjoyed celebrations of Hanukkah and Christmas at school. No prayer in schools is good, but why not take the chance to celebrate and learn about traditions once in a while?

  2. CM – I just realized I don’t have you linked on my wall. I will fix immediately.

    I agree. I think it would be cool if they learned about all celebrations, but my guess is that they just don’t want to get into it. It’s a bummer.

  3. St Agnes! Whose hair grew to cover her when they took her clothes. I misunderstood that when I first heard the story and thought that instead of the hair on her head growing to her feet, hair had grown all over her body like a Yeti.

    We studied Medieval saints’ lives stories when I was in college, and they were so much more entertaining and macabre than what we’d learned in CCD. I felt cheated.

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