It’s Halloween. Part of a three-day celebration (at least, in the Catholic church) called Hallowstide. All Saints’ Day, or All Hallows Day, is November 1st. The eve before is therefore All Hallow’s Evening… All Hallow’s e’en… Hallowe’en. The day after (in case you’re curious) is All Souls’ Day, or Day of the Dead.
Before you start wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into with this post, I’m not writing about theology… this post is about communication and its meaning. Over the past 25 years many Christian denominations have systematically tried to rename and reframe Hallowe’en into a celebration of Fall to avoid demonic overtones. The crazy part of that process is that it brings Hallowe’en much closer to its likely original origins in a dim, dusty, pre-Christian past as a harvest festival and pagan celebration of plenty before winter’s grip took hold.
It amazes me that many of the same people who decry the secularization of Christmas blithely remove the “Hallowed” from Hallowe’en and don’t see it as a similar reframing exercise. Communication, at a basic level, is about the understanding between two people, a sender and a receiver. What is sent (intended) and what is received (perceived) are immaterial… it’s what is understood between them that defines what was actually communicated. Before you decide that a concept, product or message needs “reframing,” be sure you understand its essence and meaning… sometimes what needs reframing isn’t the message, but rather the mindsets of the participants.
And the best way to change mindsets is not through push messaging, but through education and open, honest dialogue.