FOLLOW THIS BLOG! And . . . The Ghost Chaser’s Daughter
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The neighborhood I lived in as a child observed ‘All Souls Day’. This observance was held in the days following Halloween when ghosts and goblins roamed the neighborhood. ‘All Souls Day’ seemed to be ‘Halloween Lite’ – an event in which only Catholics took part. But I never understood why.
This week I dug into the difference between Halloween and All Souls Day in an attempt to understand the phenomenon of making a second round of collecting treats immediately following Halloween – which is what we did on All Souls Day in the 1950s.
I was curious about what people thought of ‘Souls’ (as in All Souls Day) and ‘Ghosts’ (as in Halloween). So I asked my Facebook friends their ‘take’ on each: My friend, Nicki Chen, who writes a blog relating to Chinese culture noted on Facebook that “most souls don’t hang around to haunt people”. I agree with Nicki. Although ghosts are tethered to Earth by intention, the circumstances of their death, or mournful inability to let go of the mortals they are attached to, souls seem to have the ability to transcend ‘on to’ their next calling, whether it be a blissful wait in Purgatory (for Catholics), or reincarnation (for Spiritualists and eastern religions).
Avid Reader, Carrie Ann Lehain opines, “. . . ghosts are connected to a specific time and have a specific identity. Souls are eternal, [e.g.] . . . life beyond time, beyond specific identity. Ghosts have souls, but not all souls are ghosts.” What differentiation could be more thoughtful?
In Catholic-dominated cultures* and communities, All Souls Day follows Halloween, and the two observances differ in significance.
Halloween is a celebration of mischief and mayhem, of hauntings and horror. Ghosts totally rule on 31 October – but so do beasts, and vampires; werewolves and hooligans! Souls are not invited to the party! When was the last time a child responded, ‘I want to dress up as a Soul!’ when asked ‘What are you going to be for Halloween?’ The two states of being – ghosts and souls – co-exist without being interchangeable.
In the Catholic Church ‘All Souls Day’ is lorded over by the ‘Office of The Dead’ (yes! There IS such a thing in the Catholic Church). It is a celebration that takes place on 02 November (unless 02 is a Sunday, or religious holiday). Frankly, I think that the website ‘New Advent’ uses the term celebration loosely in describing ‘All Souls Day’.
‘All Souls Day’ tasks families with praying for the souls of their dead, who according to Catholic doctrine are parked in Purgatory while the sins of the Departed are cleansed (Purgatory being a way-station on the route to heaven, if Beetle Juice and Catholicism is to be believed!)
And therein the distinction: While Souls are singing, ♪♬♫ My Bags Are Packed, I’m on My Way; Ghosts are waiting for portals to open with the definite objective of slipping ‘back’ to hang around as a residual, or a poltergeist, or an apparition. Ghosts are soul-less entities who are knocking at the windows and doors of the living with the theme song ‘I’ll be Seeing You’♪♬♫
So, it’s understandable that GHOSTS have as little interest in ‘All Souls Day’ (where ‘Goodie Two Shoes’ transcendence is being brokered) as SOULS have in ‘Halloween’ where bad boys and girls are planning the next eggs-over-the-neighbor’s fence prank.
All Souls Day? Ghosts not invited!
* As a side note there are innumerable variations on celebrating the dead around the world, with Ireland’s Samhain and India’s “Pitri Paksha” or “Pitar” or “Shraadh Paksha” which sets aside a fifteen-day festival for Ancestors and Dead member of the family.
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