Ann Foley, principal at Kennedy School, has argued that celebrating Halloween and even Thanksgiving is insensitive and even morally wrong. According to Foley and the Somerville Superintendant Tony Pierantozzi, “Halloween is problematic” and should not be celebrated because it has its origins in witchcraft, is un-American, and sends a dangerous message to our children. Unfortunately, their logic is flawed with bad history…
Halloween’s origins actually lie in the Ancient Celtic ritual of Samhain and goes back over 2,000 years. The Celts of Ireland, England, and Northern France celebrated the New Year on what is now November 1st, and as such they believed that October 31st had special significance. They believed that during the evening of the October 31st the
boundary between the world of the living and that of the dead became blurred and contact was possible between the two worlds. Later in the 8th century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1st as “All Saints’ Day” and the day before as “All Hallows’ Eve”… so if America was formed on Christian (even if not Catholic) ideals by the Founding Fathers, then one can argue that Halloween is by definition an American tradition.
Foley’s argument against Thanksgiving is that because of the atrocities committed by Columbus, it is irresponsible to celebrate a holiday which stems from his voyages of discovery. Once again, history is not on Foley’s side…
While Columbus did indeed commit acts of savagery against the native populations of the “New World”, he did so approximately 130 years before the first known “Thanksgiving” celebration which occurred between the Plymouth
colonists (the Mayflower people) and the native Wampanoag Indians in 1621. And Columbus never steped foot on North America, thus could not do any harm to the natives of New England.
I beg the powers that be… if you insist on destroying our traditions, at least do so with reasons based in accurate history.