During the Reformation some Protestants berated purgatory as a Catholic doctrine incompatible with their notion of predestination. They refined the theology of All Hallows’ Eve as souls that were headed to heaven were now ghosts that were evil spirits. But they continued some of the customs such as “Souling” which was still in use as late as 1930 in England.
When Halloween jumped the pond, it was recognized on church calendars in the South, and in Catholic Maryland. The New England Puritans were staunchly against it, and in Cajun country, a nocturnal mass was said in cemeteries on Halloween night.
Jack-o-lanterns were carried by guisers (trick or treaters) to frighten evil spirits, those spirits that have been denied entry into heaven or hell. Much of the symbolism of our Halloween festivities in the U.S. came through horror movies over the years.
I can tell you this, there is so much written on Halloween that I didn’t want to publish this column until after the fact. What I saw Halloween night was people having a good time in peaceful fellowship, enjoying the company of others, and making a family affair out of the night. I hope during our music fest we planted a little seed, and that some local preacher or disciple of Christ will be able to water it a little.
I know growing up in Lindale we looked forward to Halloween from the day school started. We decorated our classrooms with pictures we colored and most teachers had classroom parties the day of Halloween. There was always a Halloween Carnival in the gym of the high school. We bobbed for apples, had cake walks and other games.
Sometimes the seniors would create a ghost house in part of the school and scare the daylights out of us, and on Halloween night the candy we would get going around the village. Some ladies made treats for us. We knew the houses that made popcorn balls, and went there first, before they ran out. Yes, it was an important night, and I remember it fondly.
Then came the evil spirits putting razor blades and needles into candy for children, with mothers being warned to watch everything their kids get. If it has been tampered with, throw it away.
As a police officer, I sadly watched Halloween go from being a family night for kids, to an adult party in clubs around town.
But you know, Cave Spring has never succumbed to dissolving even portions of Halloween. The city government, DDA, and Activities committee help furnish candy for residents to hand out. They block off the downtown streets and other churches besides ours get involved in the holiday. The last few years I’ve noticed that Rome and Cedartown are getting into the Halloween business too. It is a holiday for kids in this time and place. Let’s keep it that way.
But there is the little matter of the ghost train that periodically comes through Cave Spring. My little talking Dachshund (Lucy) and her friends, Pookie the ghost cat and Maverick the English Mastiff that roams the village, are hard at work trying to solve where it comes from, and where it goes.