Spanish Catholic leaders lash out at Halloween
The growing popularity of Halloween is alarming Roman Catholic leaders who blame parents for encouraging children to celebrate death.
Madrid – Roman Catholic leaders sounded an alarm on Monday over the growing popularity of Halloween in Spain, calling it "pagan," "anti-Christian" and a celebration of death over life.
The director of the Spanish Bishops' Conference's Episcopal Committee on Liturgy, Father Joan Maria Canals, faulted parents for encouraging children to dress up for Halloween, saying they should instead focus on All Saints' Day.
"Children dress as witches, vampires, ghosts, masks, corpses, skeletons. And parents favour this type of festivities which plays with elements of death.
But when a relative dies they prevent them from seeing the dead relative," he was quoted as saying by the online edition of the El Mundo newspaper.
By contrast All Saints' Day on 1 November, when Spanish families traditionally visit the graves of loved ones, "is a festival that encourages life and not death," he said.
"Christian piety recommends a visit to the cemetery to pray for them and for the families who experience the pain of human separation.
For pedagogical reasons, it is necessary for children to discover the value of life and goodness, and not promote death."
There is a growing "risk" that due to commercial interests "pagan" customs which have been "imported" to Spain will "replace Christian customs like devotion to saints and praying for the dead," he said
Canals blamed Hollywood movies for the spread of Halloween.
"Due to this influence, Halloween started being celebrated (in Spain) several years ago and it is spreading more and more, without people knowing what it is that they are celebrating," he said.
All Saints Day is believed to have been moved from its original date in May more than 10 centuries ago to offset the pagan autumn festivals held at that time of year.
Spain has passed from being a bastion of Roman Catholicism to a predominantly lay society in less than a generation.
Fully 77.6 percent of Spaniards described themselves as Catholics but only 16 percent of those said they attended Mass every week, according to a major survey carried out two years ago by the Centre for Sociological Research.
28 October 2009
AFP / Expatica
Photos credit: WxMom; frannie60