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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Where In The Devil Is Halloween?!!!

Throughout the years I have come across people who wince at the thought of celebrating Halloween. They wouldn't dare allow their children to go out trick-or-treating because doing so would be participating in the Devil's holiday celebration, or even celebrating the Devil himself! Quite taken aback by these beliefs, I began researching the History of Halloween (before the convenience of google searches), and wrote a paper on this topic for one of my early college courses. Is Halloween truly the Devil's holiday? Quite the contrary!
Nowadays, it doesn't take much to find a plethora of online sources giving the history of Halloween to the masses. Speaking of "masses," October 31st begins the Triduum of Hallowmas. As most may know, November 1st is All Saints Day, and November 2nd is All Souls Day, so how does Halloween fit into this? The word "hallow" literally means "saint"! Therefore, All Hallows Eve (Halloween) literally means "the Eve of All Saints" which is a Christian celebration. No devil so far, but what about the tradition of trick-or-treating?
Trick-or-treating has a vast and rich history in many cultures throughout the world. Does it have some pagan roots in the Celtic culture? Yes it does, but so does Christmas and Easter. Do modern day pagans, and druids celebrate the Gaelic holiday of Samhain on Halloween? Yes they do, but unless you are participating directly in their celebrations with them, it has no direct correlation to our children who dress up in costumes and knock on doors for candy. In fact, some European trick-or-treating traditions began with adult peasants going to the homes of richer noblemen, and offering to pray for the souls of their dead relatives in exchange for a sweet cake known as a "soul cake". Once again we see the recurring theme of Christian practices. So, where is the devil in the Halloween tradition?
Because of the origins of praying for the dead, some cultures believed the dead walked freely on All Hallows Eve. People began dressing up in scary costumes hoping to scare the spirits away and leave them alone. This is also a tradition you will find with people carving scary faces on gourds, and pumpkins, thus creating the Jack-O-Lantern. Over the years costumes have evolved to become scarier and more gruesome. The stories of Edgar Allan Poe and Bram Stoker gave foundation to the creation horror movies. Instead of sitting around the family hearth telling ghost stories of old, people now wait in line to be frightened in haunted houses. Does our American Halloween obsession with scary and evil looking things mean we worship the devil? Does the devil play a part in any of the modern Halloween traditions? Only if you choose to bring him into it! Most people spend their Halloween getting dressed in costumes, having parties, trick-or-treating for candy, or watching a good scary movie with friends without even a single thought spent on the devil. Halloween is time for fun rooted in Christian traditions of praying for the dead... there is no devil in that!

Besides, those of us who grew up in the Detroit Metro Area already know... Devil's Night is the night before Halloween!


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Something Wicked This Way Came...

For those of you who know me, you already know how much I love to decorate for Holidays, and how much I really love Halloween! It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that my latest crafting project has been all about decorating for Halloween! I have spent the past two weeks putting my Cricut to work once again, and am very delighted with all the new Halloween decorations I have created!

I started out with smaller projects, by making pictures to hang on the walls.

And found the perfect way to decorate the guest bathroom mirror
Then it was time to stretch my crafting "sea legs". I spent a whole week creating two different spooktacular scenes for my dining room walls!
I love the Trick-or-Treaters!
This graveyard took me about 8 hours to make!
Having taken over the living room and dining room with all my crafting supplies, my husband decided to take pictures of my "craft room"... The scary part is, these pictures were taken on a more "clean and organized" crafting day! 

After my wall scenes were completed, I put together a few more smaller projects

I have a couple more projects to get up on the walls before this years Halloween party, but I am very pleased that everywhere you look in my house says it's time for HALLOWEEN!

Do you have a favorite Halloween decoration you look forward to bringing out each year?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Etiquette of Grief

I am not a grief counselor, nor am I an expert in emotional management. However, when it comes to most delicate situations it's always best to use basic manners, and be respectful.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve the loss of a loved one. There is no timetable for grieving, as the healing process takes nothing less than time. The grieving process is unique to each person, and each situation. So how should you act when you encounter a person in mourning or still grieving a great loss? That answer is unique to each person and situation as well.

Some people internalize their feelings. They don't talk about their grief, and they don't want to be forced to talk about it either. They just want to get on with their normal routine, and deal with the loss within the privacy of their own minds. Others may not internalize their pain so completely, but still wish to grieve privately. They may shed a tear or two in public, but still don't want to talk to anyone. They may take their grief into the privacy of their home and only share their emotions with a close family member or friend.

There are also those who constantly need people around them. They need the comfort of warm hugs, loving embraces, and consoling conversations. They may make public posts to share their pain with anyone who will listen, just to help find a way to calm the pain of loss they are feeling. They need to be engaged in a lot of social activities, for fear of being alone and falling into a despair so deep they may never recover.

Some people need only a day or two to mourn, others it may take a lifetime.

The best thing you can do for someone who is grieving is to simply pay attention to the signs and signals they are giving. If someone is a private griever, simply send a note of condolence, be mindful to not draw any attention to the situation, and respect their privacy. These people want to left alone, and everyone should respect that. If they are an open griever, reach out to them as much and as often as you can, for as long as it takes.

Some helpful things you can do that are standard etiquette are:

  • Send a card, flowers, or fruit basket to show your support. This should be done at the time of the funeral, and the weeks following. 
  • Offer to make a dish for the grieving family, or offer to help clean, do laundry, or help with the children and/or pets. Some people may need basic help in area's of life that are routine, and may get overlooked during a difficult time.
  • Offer to help with "Thank You" notes.  
  • If you don't know what to say, "I'm sorry for your loss" is usually best. Sometimes it's best not to say anything at all and just sit with them as a comforting presence. 
  • If you don't know how someone is dealing with their grief, ask a close family member or friend. They will give you the best insight into what is needed. 
It is always important to remember to respect the family's wishes, even if you don't agree with them. Every person, family, and culture has their own way they experience grief. Do not put your expectations on someone else, and do your best to show your support in a manner that is appropriate to each individual.