Those Pesky Satanists

Ottawa XPress – Shotgun – October 28, 2004

“A flotilla of apples bobbing in a steel tub evokes memories of childhood and headlong plunges into icy water.” ~Apple Votives Halloween decorating idea by

A quick search on the Internet for “What is Halloween?” will lead you to some weird things, like Martha Stewart’s decorating tips or super-right-wing American Christian interpretations of the holiday.

The way in which the latter demonize October 31 is freaky, and the former so cryptically funny it’s scary. But, before you laugh off these viewpoints – brought to you by sites like and – as just American nonsense, you might be surprised to find that the controversy surrounding this unholy holiday is not so far from our own backyards.

CBC recently reported that a few Maritime towns, like Summerside, P.E.I., have put Halloween to a vote this year.


Because it falls on a Sunday.

Tony Gratton, pastor of the United Pentecostal Church in Summerside, is concerned that having Halloween on a Sunday takes away from the Lord’s Day and could contribute to “an erosion of Christian values.”

Glenda Wright, also of Summerside, and part of the Church of Nazarene, mentioned she would not want to be interrupted by menacing kids: “I mean, if you want to stay home and rest and go out to your worship service that Sunday evening, that day of rest is going to be interrupted with children coming knocking at your door.”

So don’t answer the door, Glenda.

In the end, Halloween stayed put. Summerside’s police chief suggested Sunday is a safer night for children to go trick-or-treating while the Town of Souris wanted to keep Halloween on the Sunday because it doesn’t want to deal with the possibility of two nights of vandalism.

Charlottetown council has moved it to Saturday. As far as I know, Halloween in Ottawa is still on for Sunday.

So what’s all the noise about? Is it because October 31 is the eve of the day the Druids held celebrations in honour of Samhain, Lord of the Dead? It was also the Celtic New Year’s Day. According to the Yearbook of English Festivals by Dorothy Gladys Spicer, “To the ancient Druids, the end of October commemorated the festival of the waning year, when the sun began his downward course and ripened grain was garnered from the fields.”

Encyclopedia Britannica says “the two chief characteristics of ancient Halloween were the lighting of bonfires and the belief that this is the one night in the year during which the ghost and witches are most likely to wander about.” Seems harmless enough – keep in mind we’re talking about a time when indoor plumbing didn’t exist.

October 31 is also the eve of All Saints’ Day, a holy day in the Roman Catholic Church, Episcopal Church, the Church of England and the Greek Orthodox Church. It’s a day to honour martyrs who have died for the Church. This holiday was created by the Church during the time of Constantine to coincide, and obviously try to override, the existing pagan holiday. Sort of like Christianity did with Christmas and Easter.

It was just last year that I learned that Easter is the Christian disguise for a pagan fertility celebration, and that Jesus wasn’t a Capricorn.

“When you’re watching CNN,” my buddy said to me, “do you ever see any evergreens in Israel?”

Good point.

So where did the Xmas tree idea come from? And who the hell is the Easter Bunny and what did that have to do with Christ coming out of the cave?

I found it all has to do with pagan symbols getting absorbed by the newer Christian holidays. I learned how the Church poked their noses in things, and slapped a couple of holidays on the calendar, all in the hopes of dissuading their followers from the evil pagan ways that had been celebrated for so long.

Then we come to these present-day web-Christians who, according to, believe Halloween to be the opportunity for “most Satanists [to] celebrate this as their high holy day and even offer human sacrifices to the devil.” These web-Christians call Halloween degenerate and absurd, an evil influence that will turn us all into devil-worshippers.

“Parents have the responsibility not to allow their children to be exposed to these evil celebrations,” says

And yet they’re totally fine with a story about a chick who gets knocked up without ever doing “the deed.”

The Virgin Mary is a lot more spooky than a simple Halloween costume, and stinks of magic and “other”-worldliness. I mean, getting pregnant involves bodily contact and if something in the sky was getting busy between my legs at night, I’d want to at least know its name.

It’s the stuff of horror movies, that.

If some people want this to be a fundamental part of their religion, they might at least lay off pathologizing little kids dressed up as goblins or a princess for Halloween. These kids just want to fill up their plastic pumpkin pail with mini-Mars bars and collect for UNICEF.

Think of the parents like those at who encourage their paraplegic kids to dress up, and have even created a “How-to” manual for creative costumes for children in wheelchairs.

Yeah, I know. Bloody Satanists, that lot.

– Sylvie Hill