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Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. Psychologist (1950-2013)
California License No. PSY 10092
 
Specializing in Presence-Centered Therapy
balancing mind and heart, body and spirit
 


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Articles by Dr. Friedman (except where noted otherwise)

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Holiday Family Gatherings

Take Out Scare, Put Care In Halloween Celebration

© 2011 by Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

[Originally in The Sun, San Bernardino, CA, Sunday October 28, 1991, page D1, D4]
 

What ever happened to Halloween?

Historically, it was rooted in a pagan Celtic festival observed in ancient Britain and Ireland. Fire festivals were used to ward off and frighten away evil spirits.

These pagan rites influenced the Christian festival of All Hallows' Eve. This was the eve of All Saints' Day, commemorating all saints of the Christian church.

Supposedly, the souls of the dead returned to their abodes on Halloween; this spurred anxieties about ghosts and demons moving about. Halloween was the only day in which the help of the devil specifically was invoked for divinations concerning health, good fortune and marriage.

Interestingly, Oct. 31 was associated with renewing covenants, the laws and land tenures as well as the return of animal herds from pasture. Gradually, it changed into the secular-holiday that it remains today.

Thus, Halloween served three life-affirming functions:

  • It was a time to reconnect with the essence of departed loved ones.
     
  • It reaffirmed important community agreements, structures and seasonal changes.
     
  • It helped guard and protect people from evil influences.

Yet something seriously has gone awry with Halloween. Begging for candy door to door is nothing I'd want my children to be exposed to or taught. To be scared and tricked, and thereafter rewarded with counter-nutritional, cavity-producing sweets is, at best, a bizarre ritual.

The modern observance of Halloween may possibly meet the need to dress up in the evil to ward it off, like a moral inoculation. Or perhaps it's a matter of tasting the "dark side" to be able to stand in the light the rest of the year.

Maybe you think these are the alarmist ravings of a sour, old curmudgeon, an early Scrooge. Not so. Every year, countless individuals, mostly children, get sick, terrified, poisoned, maimed or killed in mishaps and sadistic sacrifices directly related to this modern event.

Take a look at the outrageous, little publicized, destructive acts of satanic cults on
and around Oct. 31. These harmful deeds may well have their roots in the historic custom of obtaining help from the devil.

Modern Halloween is no holiday; it's an aberration, an abomination, the ultimate unholy unholiday.

Are we blind or uncaring, oblivious or indifferent that we miss its real purposes in fear, harm and wrongdoing? Has the blatant, widespread commercialism and "good for business" mentality made us myopic and dimmed our judgment?

Here's a three-part proposal for recreating Halloween to validate children and the true spirit of community:

  • Put aside our obsession with darkness and refuse to participate in any glorification of the demonic.
     
  • Support our children's well being with wholesome games and activities. Since 1965, UNICEF, the United Nations agency for children, has collected money on this occasion.
     
  • Let's return to the original, life-validating purposes of this "date by holding a child-centered," community harvest festival. -In America, autumn is a natural time for harvesting crops and celebrating the bounty of the earth that we have so lovingly tended (or so desperately need to clean up and repair).

This focus also would help each of us, as individuals and as members of families and communities, forge anew the bond of "acting civilized" in a society that often is not.What better way to ward off evil than to stand in the light of gratitude for all the abundant gifts our Earth provides. Let Halloween be the day that we celebrate the child in every one of us. That would be a holiday worth celebrating!

Let's celebrate the miracle of our children, our future and the human community in the light, instead of glorifying our sick fascination with evil in the dark. In a world and country that grants precious few rights to children, we can honor them with a Children's Day of their very own. What an opportunity to demonstrate just how "civilized" our civilization can be!

*

Friedman, of Redlands, is a writer and licensed psychologist practicing In Loma Linda. He is also associated with CPC Rancho Lindo Hospital in Fontana.


George Demont Otis      Bolinas Valley
 

 


Home | Dedication/Orientation | Articles by Dr. Friedman | Video and Audio Clips | Annotated Resource Links | Psychology Professionals

Dr. Will’s Perspective on Practicing Psychology: Dr. Friedman's Practice | Dr. Friedman's Approach | Therapeutic Purposes | Credentials | Experience | Brochures | Interview | Events and Workshops | Website Disclaimer | Contact