snopes.com  

Go Back   snopes.com > SLC Central > Social Studies

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #41  
Old 24 October 2013, 12:02 AM
ganzfeld's Avatar
ganzfeld ganzfeld is offline
 
Join Date: 05 September 2005
Location: Kyoto, Japan
Posts: 23,517
Skull

The Easter bunny isn't quasi-religious; it's religious. Easter is a religious holiday. Some non-Jewish people do things for Hanukkah. That doesn't change the fact that it's a Jewish holiday. I understand that much of Halloween doesn't really come from All Hallow's Eve but it's origins are not really secular. I wouldn't call it religious by any means but it's not necessarily something that kids from various religious backgrounds can necessarily enjoy equally. Sure, to kids it's just about getting candy and having fun but so is just about every other holiday.

I'm not anti-Haloween. I just don't see why public schools should be expected to do anything for Halloween.
Reply With Quote
  #42  
Old 24 October 2013, 12:29 AM
Cervus's Avatar
Cervus Cervus is offline
 
Join Date: 21 October 2002
Location: Florida
Posts: 21,083
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ganzfeld View Post
The Easter bunny isn't quasi-religious; it's religious. Easter is a religious holiday.
Bunnies and chicks and eggs have nothing to do with the religion being celebrated.
Reply With Quote
  #43  
Old 24 October 2013, 01:17 AM
ganzfeld's Avatar
ganzfeld ganzfeld is offline
 
Join Date: 05 September 2005
Location: Kyoto, Japan
Posts: 23,517
Default

Well, OK. I was wrong. A Christmas tree isn't really religious either. So the Easter Bunny could be considered secular. But it doesn't change the fact that Easter and Christmas are religious holidays.
Reply With Quote
  #44  
Old 24 October 2013, 01:50 AM
me, no really's Avatar
me, no really me, no really is offline
 
Join Date: 02 June 2005
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 2,536
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ganzfeld View Post
Well, OK. I was wrong. A Christmas tree isn't really religious either. So the Easter Bunny could be considered secular. But it doesn't change the fact that Easter and Christmas are religious holidays.
I disagree - sort of. Easter and Christmas are both holidays that can be religious. I mean, if we ignore some of the supposed early links between these holidays and older pagan celebrations, then in more recent times they were established Christian holidays. I will give you that. In more modern times though, I would argue that they often aren't, regardless of the origins. I mean, if somebody celebrates Easter by going to church, and thinking on the death and resurrection of Jesus, and giving eggs as a reminder of that, then for that person it is a religious holiday. OTOH, for a person who has no association with the Christian church, and who simply celebrates Easter as a day off from work where you give and get chocolate (primarily chicks, eggs and bunnies) then for that person I would argue that is not a religious holiday in any form - even though the origin of the holiday was in a religious tradition. Same for Christmas. To me, it is not that Easter and Christmas are religious holidays anymore, but the Easter and Christmas can be religious holidays.
Reply With Quote
  #45  
Old 24 October 2013, 02:17 AM
snopes's Avatar
snopes snopes is offline
 
Join Date: 18 February 2000
Location: California
Posts: 109,643
Witch

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cervus View Post
I found it hard to comprehend how a 6th grader is supposedly more easily distracted by Halloween costumes than a 5-year-old.
Since 5-year-olds are distracted by pretty much everything, costumes don't make much of a difference.
Reply With Quote
  #46  
Old 24 October 2013, 03:18 AM
ganzfeld's Avatar
ganzfeld ganzfeld is offline
 
Join Date: 05 September 2005
Location: Kyoto, Japan
Posts: 23,517
Default

I'm having a hard time comprehending how Easter would not be religious. It's not even really celebrated outside Christian countries. I understand some non-Christians do something for it but so do some non-Chinese celebrate Chinese New Year. It's still Chinese.
Reply With Quote
  #47  
Old 24 October 2013, 03:23 AM
me, no really's Avatar
me, no really me, no really is offline
 
Join Date: 02 June 2005
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 2,536
Default

Sure, but if you are in a Western country where 90% of the population have no religious affiliation, do not attend any religious organisation except maybe for weddings and funerals, and celebrate the "Christian" holidays with no reference to any religion at all than can it really be called a religious holiday? Maybe "a holiday with religious origins", or a "post-religious holiday" or "a holiday that some still observe as a religious one"? It would be different if only the religious people in the society were celebrating the holiday, but if the holiday is celebrated by all, but only with religious significance to a small percentage, then it is hardly a religious holiday anymore - except to a small group of people
Reply With Quote
  #48  
Old 24 October 2013, 03:32 AM
ganzfeld's Avatar
ganzfeld ganzfeld is offline
 
Join Date: 05 September 2005
Location: Kyoto, Japan
Posts: 23,517
Default

Yeah, we used to celebrate Easter with Australians (after Halloween ds's favorite party) and no one ever mentioned religion. So I get that. But it's not as if it's a different holiday. It still has very religious origins. People from non-Christian countries often don't even know that it exists or anything about it.
Reply With Quote
  #49  
Old 24 October 2013, 03:44 AM
Hero_Mike's Avatar
Hero_Mike Hero_Mike is offline
 
 
Join Date: 06 April 2005
Location: Phoenix, AZ & Hamilton, ON
Posts: 7,267
Default

ganzfeld, here's the deal. Both Easter and Christmas have evolved to have religious and secular aspects, to varying degrees. In western countries, persons of almost all religions and levels of belief participate in these secular aspects. The big one is, of course, gift exchange at Christmas. At Easter, almost all people of all religions and levels of belief indulge in chocolate (with perhaps the exception of those who have religious dietary restrictions - a very small minority to be sure). This happens regardless of whether or not they go to church, celebrate with their family, take the day off work, or are actual Christians. The secular and commercialized aspects of Easter and Christmas are nearly universally practiced. One of my best friends is a pretty staunch atheist, however, we exchange gifts at Christmas and his house is decorated and a tree is put up. He grew up in a house without any religious practices, and so do his children, but these aspects of Christmas remain.

Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day have evolved into what I would call *completely* secular holidays - the minor exception to that being devout Catholics who abstain from meat during lent but await a dispensation for a traditional St. Patrick's Day meal. These two holidays have, by and large, turned into an occasion for couples to spend time/money, or to have a very loud part with lots of drinking.

How would you describe Mother's Day and Father's Day? Secular, arbitrary, commercial, near-universal, and with a very short history of how they are celebrated today. Yet millions of people of all types and levels of religious belief buy cards and gifts, call their parents, have dinner with them, and buy into those aspects?

I dare say that not many people associate Hallowe'en with the Christian traditions of All Saints Day, All Souls Day, and November being the month of remembrance for the dead, and millions of children out there enjoy their chocolate bunnies and Advent calendars without even a hint of Christian eschatology. (Personally, I prefer the Cadbury cream eggs but when I see them available all year round, I'm no longer sure the eggs I'm getting are fresh.)

Only the most devoutly religious - practicing non-Christians who reject any "western" or even remotely "Christian" observances, and the most devout Christians who reject any "secular" or "commercial" takeover of Christian holidays - seem to reject these "secular" practices. Hallowe'en gets some attention too because of those "shadows" of occultism and paganism, but I think that the vast, *vast* majority of people living in North America regard Hallowe'en as completely secular and lacking any resemblance to its Christian roots, just like chocolate bunnies.
Reply With Quote
  #50  
Old 24 October 2013, 04:03 AM
Cervus's Avatar
Cervus Cervus is offline
 
Join Date: 21 October 2002
Location: Florida
Posts: 21,083
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ganzfeld View Post
I'm having a hard time comprehending how Easter would not be religious. It's not even really celebrated outside Christian countries.
It can be celebrated with a purely religious aspect, which, not being raised Christian, I'm not entirely familiar with and will probably botch up if I try to explain it.

Or it can be celebrated in the secular way, with egg hunts, a general "springtime" decoration motif, candy, and a family get-together with a ham dinner, which is what my family always did. Because two of my relatives' birthdays are in April and often fell on or near Easter, we sometimes made the date into a birthday party for them as well.
Reply With Quote
  #51  
Old 24 October 2013, 06:24 AM
ganzfeld's Avatar
ganzfeld ganzfeld is offline
 
Join Date: 05 September 2005
Location: Kyoto, Japan
Posts: 23,517
Default

I totally get why someone with a non-Halloween background wouldn't want to celebrate it. That's all. Now, someone might say "well they wouldn't want to do Mother's Day either" and I think that's just a slippery slope argument. Halloween has religious roots, not to mention clear superstitious and supernatural connotations. So if a public school says "we're not doing anything special for Halloween but you can wear black and orange clothes if you want to do something yourself" then I think that's extremely reasonable if not the most rational choice. Whether only 10 percent of the population or 90 percent thinks its quasi-religious is beside the point because it's a reasonable conclusion given its imagery and history.
Reply With Quote
  #52  
Old 24 October 2013, 01:57 PM
mags's Avatar
mags mags is offline
 
Join Date: 23 February 2006
Location: Springboro, OH
Posts: 5,104
Default

Halloween's religious "roots" (as well as Easter and Christmas, for that matter), outside of the names we use for each holiday now, are pre-Christian anyway. Much of what we think of as the theme of each holiday (red and green for Christmas, bunnies and eggs for Easter, scary costumes at Halloween) goes back to pagan tradition which was rolled into each Christian holiday because that's what people were already used to doing around that time of year. So, unless you want to claim they are in fact pagan religious holidays, I think you pretty much have to accept they are secularized. I don't think most people are coloring Easter eggs to celebrate fertility (the pre-Christian root) any more than they are doing it to celebrate Jesus' rise from the dead. People do it because it is spring and that's what we do at that time.
Reply With Quote
  #53  
Old 24 October 2013, 02:17 PM
ganzfeld's Avatar
ganzfeld ganzfeld is offline
 
Join Date: 05 September 2005
Location: Kyoto, Japan
Posts: 23,517
Default

I think Halloween's roots are not at all pagan. If you trace it back it goes back to some kind of vague traditions that may have had pagan roots but it's all speculation. Now, the Christian connection is almost as vague but at least we know that there is an All Soul's Day from which its name came. Whether that Christian holiday had pagan roots or not is not known. I simply don't buy this whole idea that all the Christian traditions came from pre-Christian (or "pagan") roots. Most of what we call paganism was invented by neo-Paganists in the 19th century (and even a few before that). So then it was kind of assumed - on the basis of the slimmest of evidence - that certain traditions came from "pagans" and Halloween has practically the least evidence of all.

That said, the whole thing with spirits and ghosts and witches and so forth has many religious/superstitious/supernatural connotations. It's just a fun holiday for folks, not something schools should feel obligated to participate in any more than they should tell ghost stories on overnight field trips if they don't feel it's appropriate. (If the faculty want to, I have no problem. I'm not against having fun.)
Reply With Quote
  #54  
Old 24 October 2013, 04:10 PM
Hero_Mike's Avatar
Hero_Mike Hero_Mike is offline
 
 
Join Date: 06 April 2005
Location: Phoenix, AZ & Hamilton, ON
Posts: 7,267
Canada

Quote:
Originally Posted by ganzfeld View Post
I totally get why someone with a non-Halloween background wouldn't want to celebrate it. That's all. Now, someone might say "well they wouldn't want to do Mother's Day either" and I think that's just a slippery slope argument. Halloween has religious roots, not to mention clear superstitious and supernatural connotations.
My point was about some children being excluded from things like Hallowe'en because their parents (often foreign-born), are simply not as aware and in tune with these things because, well, they didn't grow up with it themselves. It was never about people *choosing* not to celebrate it.

And even so, those people who were from different ethnic backgrounds - at least the ones I was talking about - were, by and large, from nominally Christian European countries. They may not have been devout or practicing, but it was not that they avoided Christmas or Easter because they were not Christian. When I was growing up in Canada, many of my schoolmates were "first generation Canadians" with foreign-born parents, and for the majority of them, were I lived, they had left Europe during or after WW2.

But you make this muddled argument - yes, it's a good and valid point about extending this to a slippery slope - but then you throw in this whole bit about superstitious and supernatural connotations, implying that those are, indeed, strong and valid reasons for people to *not* celebrate Hallowe'en. I don't get it, and I am wondering if you are trying to be deliberately difficult here.

Clearly, there are people out there who have objections to religious and quasi-religious holidays that aren't part of their own devout religious practice. If such a person objects to Hallowe'en, I imagine they also object to the more secular aspects of Easter or Christmas - like the Easter Bunny or the secular Santa Claus and his elves and reindeer, not to mention that they probably object to Harry Potter books and any hints of the supernatural. These people exist, but they are very few in number. They get a lot of vocal press, but I think you have simply been away from the US/Canada for so long that you're no longer in tune with what mainstream society is like here. You simply don't live it anymore, and thus the difference.

These people would form an even smaller minority than the number of adherents of the big non-Christian religions. Muslims (<1%) and Hindus (<1.5-2.5%) and Jews (2%) total maybe 5% of the US population (probably similar in Canada) and their distribution across the country will not be homogenous. The likelihood of meeting such a person, much less meeting one with strong objections to quasi-religious Christian holidays, is very small.

Even rarer than that would be the person who might object to, say, Valentine's Day or Mother's Day or Father's Day as being very artificial and commercialistic, and that they don't need a specific day to show appreciation to their SO or parent. That's completely different - I have never heard of any quasi-religious objections to Mother's Day or Father's Day - a person may have bad exeperiences with their own parents but hardly anyone would say that it's wrong for *anyone* to show appreciation to a parent (or parental figure). And yes, there are extremely devout Christians out there who decry the promotion of love and relationships outside of a Christian marriage, with respect to Valentine's Day, but aside from this, again, very small minority, it's pretty widespread.

So yes, it is possible that people can object to these holidays. They exist, and they are in the minority. Once again, I will reiterate that my comment was about those who were unaware of these holidays and practices, not simply those who actively objected to them and refused to participate.

How does this work, really, in other countries? I mean, well, I am aware of the practice of the Red Envelope for Chinese New Year. If I lived in Hong Kong, would it be "normal" or "expected" of me to participate in or to respect this practice, even among my own friends? Or would it be normal or expected of me to reject this quasi-religious practice of superstitious nature and not only reject the good will of my friends and acquaintances there, but to be insulting. Personally, it would appear to me that a westerner who objects to this, publicly and loudly, is just being cheap.

So even though I, personally, would have no objection to exchanging such gifts, and that I do not believe that the red envelope will ward off "evil spirits", I would participate in this because, well, "When in Rome, do as the Romans." And I think that the vast majority of people would agree.

So while there may be some historically quasi-religious significance of Hallowe'en, there are significant "secular" aspects of many holidays. Ask the average young child in the US and they will tell you that Santa Claus brings presents to all good children, and won't know any link to the Three Wise Men, or that the red-suited "secular" Santa Claus only brings presents to Christian children. That's the way it is...
Reply With Quote
  #55  
Old 24 October 2013, 10:30 PM
ganzfeld's Avatar
ganzfeld ganzfeld is offline
 
Join Date: 05 September 2005
Location: Kyoto, Japan
Posts: 23,517
Theme Icon

I'm not trying to be deliberately difficult. I don't see why schools should feel obligated to participate in a holiday that has a lot to do with supernatural things and superstitions. That's the reasonable and rational answer. It doesn't matter if it's only one person who opposes or even none. That doesn't change that the primary imagery of Halloween is based on the crudest and most ridiculous superstitious beliefs.

Whether it has primarily religious or non-religious roots or one would call it quasi-religious or not is an interesting and related topic but it's not really necessary to solve these questions to come to a rational conclusion. (As I said, I have nothing against them doing something either. I just do not think they should feel obligated.)
Reply With Quote
  #56  
Old 24 October 2013, 11:46 PM
Hero_Mike's Avatar
Hero_Mike Hero_Mike is offline
 
 
Join Date: 06 April 2005
Location: Phoenix, AZ & Hamilton, ON
Posts: 7,267
Default

It has to do with children being the main "tenants" of schools, and that most of them will be participating in some kind of Hallowe'en activity, and it actually is a valid teaching tool to involve that "outside reality" into school. Teachers of all grades do this - it just varies how. For example, in an election year, teachers in high school may use the fall election as part of the lesson plans for civics or history or english. Math teachers can use sporting events for statistics or odds. And early-year teachers use just about everything. Secular and public holidays. The change of seasons. And so on.

You might call it gimmickry, and that it departs from the more "pure" aspects of teaching, however, if using a list of Hallowe-en themed words for a spelling test actually improves the student's attentiveness and actual performance, then why not?

I haven't been in school for a long time, so I don't know what happens in the more cosmopolitan and diverse classrooms we have now. If you don't direct the students very specifically, their thoughts are still going to be dominated by the world at large. For example, if you give young students a "free writing" or "free art" assignment in the first week of January, you'll get a few writing about winter weather or football playoffs, but many (if not most) will write about their Christmas holidays and gifts. So I stilll say that in the week before Hallowe'en, if most of the students are going to be talking about it - then deal with that reality.

Schools are about education, and by the time high school rolls around, they should be very serious about that education. Why then are there school-sponsored events like dances, proms, homecoming, etc? Aren't these just silly, unreasonable, and irrational distractions? Being serious and getting an education, does not mean that it should be at the expense of all pleasure and enjoyment.

What's your real objection to this? Do you find Hallowe'en objectionable because it is quasi-religious, and you aren't? Because it fosters belief in superstition (even though, to be honest, it really mocks those superstitions)? Because it isn't universally practiced? Because they don't do it in Japan and the children still survive? There are a lot of advantages to playing toward the average. I think you're really out of touch with what it's like to be a child...
Reply With Quote
  #57  
Old 24 October 2013, 11:58 PM
ganzfeld's Avatar
ganzfeld ganzfeld is offline
 
Join Date: 05 September 2005
Location: Kyoto, Japan
Posts: 23,517
Theme Icon

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hero_Mike View Post
What's your real objection to this?
As I stated several times, I have no objection to schools doing something for Halloween. The school in the OP was criticized for doing nothing for Halloween, which I think is a very reasonable decision even if it isn't what all schools do.
Reply With Quote
  #58  
Old 25 October 2013, 01:00 AM
Latiam's Avatar
Latiam Latiam is offline
 
Join Date: 19 June 2005
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 4,471
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ganzfeld View Post
My fourth grade costume was a jacket and a leather hat with some old goggles. It was the best I could do and all the kids said it was like having no costume at all. It was very economically mixed school, with about half the kids below poverty level and maybe ten percent well-to-do but somehow most of the kids had managed to get a costume of some sort from a store - at least a plastic mask and a cape. Only one teacher was kind enough to say "Here comes a WWI fighter pilot!"

I understand that schools can't just give up doing anything at all every time there's a chance that the kids who have less are going to feel a bit left out. I think Halloween is one that is so unnecessary and lacking in any educational value that there's no reason.

(Spirit day would be so-so but I don't think kids of that age should really be drinking - especially spirits. "Who's got the shpirit! *hic*")
We tell kids who can't afford it, who have inappropriate costumes, and those who aren't going to celebrate that they can wear orange and black if they want to. So there are plenty of kids without costumes, because we've got a lot of Muslims, and a fair whack of them don't. No idea why we have so many, and I don't care. It just means I have to be careful about things like gelatin.

I also think expecting kids to do a full day of work on days like Halloween is a bit unrealistic. I can get at least some literacy and math done if the kids know there's a party afterward. Otherwise they're too hyped up about that night.

Last edited by Latiam; 25 October 2013 at 01:11 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #59  
Old 25 October 2013, 01:03 AM
Lainie's Avatar
Lainie Lainie is offline
 
Join Date: 29 August 2005
Location: Suburban Columbus, OH
Posts: 74,331
Default

FWIW, my Jehovah's Witness mother would have objected even to my wearing orange and black. I suspect many other parents who object to Halloween for religious reasons would do the same.
Reply With Quote
  #60  
Old 25 October 2013, 01:09 AM
ganzfeld's Avatar
ganzfeld ganzfeld is offline
 
Join Date: 05 September 2005
Location: Kyoto, Japan
Posts: 23,517
Theme Icon

It seems like the school just made that as a suggestion for kids who want to do something.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Thatís the spirit: The dating service for ghosts thatís haunting the web snopes Weird News 0 06 October 2013 12:40 AM
Welcome to Ontario Jenn Fauxtography 11 07 April 2010 05:29 PM
Ghostly 'white lady' sparks hunts by spirit hunters snopes Spook Central 0 10 January 2009 03:47 AM
Christmas carol is really a rebel song in celebration of Bonnie Prince Charlie Stoneage Dinosaur History 21 07 January 2009 02:22 PM
Creating Christmas: Our contemporary celebration is a potpourri of practices snopes History 9 29 December 2007 09:08 PM


All times are GMT. The time now is 01:25 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.