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Bianca Knows Best ... And Fights Religious Fanaticism

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Dear Bianca,

Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love the little witches and goblins and, of course, the candy. So naturally, I plan on taking my toddler on her first trick-or-treating excursion. She already has a cute little pumpkin costume.

Unfortunately, my mother-in-law is a crazy religious fanatic. She believes Halloween is the devil's holiday and insists that we bring my daughter to her church carnival instead. I'm not even a Christian and neither is my husband. We are raising our daughter as an agnostic. She can figure out her beliefs when she's old enough.

I tried talking to my mother-in-law on the phone about my feelings on this, and she hung up on me. My husband won't touch the issue for fear of upsetting his mother. What can I say to convince my mother-in-law that my child needs to experience trick-or-treating like a normal kid?

Fighting the Fanatic

Dear Fighting,

Sounds like your mother-in-law needs a little history lesson. Halloween has nothing to do with the Christian devil. From its beginnings, the harvest holiday has focused on honoring the dead and beginning anew.

Halloween's origins can be traced back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, in which the Celts celebrated their new year. After Samhain, the weather began to change and get colder. The light half of the day was shorter than the dark half, and thus the Celts used the time to reflect on death.

On Samhain, they dressed up in animal heads and pelts and honored their fallen friends and family. They also made plant and animal sacrifices in a bonfire to honor the Celtic gods.

The holiday went through a few changes after the Romans conquered the Celtic lands. In the mid-800s, Pope Boniface IV declared November 1st as All Saint's Day in an attempt to stop the pagan celebration, while still upholding the tradition of honoring the dead.

So you see, no devil. Granted, it is rooted in a pagan holiday, but the ancient Celtic religions pre-date the Christian devil. And honestly, the Pope dug the idea of honoring dead people, so your mother-in-law should too. Share the holiday's history with her, and recount stories of your own cherished trick-or-treating memories. And this time, try talking to her in person. Then she can't hang up you.

Remember your daughter is your child, not hers. Grandmas can make suggestions, but they should know when to step back and let the parents do the parenting. Let your daughter go trick-or-treating, and if grandma still gets angry, so be it. Hopefully, she'll get over it in time.

On another note, your husband really needs to become involved in this argument. You're dealing with his mother after all. How would he like it if you forced him to confront your mother on a controversial topic?

Happy trick-or-treating! Got a problem? Bianca can solve it. Send questions to bphillips@memphisflyer.com.

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