October 31st is Reformation Day, when we remember the anniversary in 1517 of Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the door of the Schlosskirche (“Castle Church,” or All Saints’ Church) in Wittenberg, at which point it is often said that the Reformation began and ran until 1648. In point of fact, the roots of the Reformation lie further back in history (John Wycliffe, Jan Hus, et al), but the date remains seminal, hence the observance of “Reformation Day” on October 31st when it is appropriate to remember the Reformers of that time — and, I suggest, also consider such present-day ancient reformers who may have been born on this day. As an added bonus, we begin on this day to turn our thoughts toward the impending All Saints Day when we remember all of the saints, both known and unknown.
Most typical celebrations of Reformation Day and the attendant pursuit of purity in Christian doctrine revolve around dressing our children in costumes like ghosts, goblins, ghouls, witches, zombies, serial killers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the like — even the Grim Reaper or the Prince of Darkness himself — and taking them around the neighbourhood from door to door where they beg for candy under threat of injurious “tricks” to be played against the unwary homeowners. The candy is then consumed by said children within the days following, whereupon they begin to rot their teeth until their mothers finally can’t stand the hyperactivity and throw out the remainder of the candy. The connection to the memory of past saints and dressing up as the undead does seem rather clear, one should think. Just to be sure, we typically tell spooky stories about dead people, ghosts, hauntings, or haunted houses and other unexplained supernatural happenings, just to be sure. I’m not entirely certain of the role played in the ritual by the candy, though perhaps it’s the collection of 95 pieces of candy at representative doors around the neighbourhood that is in view. If that’s the case, I’m sure that the kids will make the connection easily and be inspired to make a stand for their beliefs as did Martin Luther, so that when their mother realizes how much candy they’ve consumed in the twenty minutes before dinner and comes to confiscate their treasure store, they will stand up straight with their chins held high and boldly proclaim, “Here I stand, I can do no other — God help me!”
I suppose it’s plausible that I may have a few of my wires crossed here, but it seems to me that this is an accurate depiction of the holiday. As a side note, we’ve suggested to my wife that she go to work this evening dressed as the Grim Reaper. Since she’s a night nurse working with elderly patients on her ward, she’s suggested this may not be the best course of action lest she unwittingly dispatch someone too early due to sudden heart failure when she appears in their doorway in the dark of night. She’s ever the thoughtful one.
Anyway, hope everyone has had a “fulfilling” Reformation Day.