Seasons of War

There is a season for waging war, even a phoney one fought on television and in newspapers by pundits trying to wake up their dozing audience.

Traditionally military campaigns were begun in mid or late spring after the spring crops were planted and the livestock had birthed their offspring. Once the rural chores were complete the men could march off in search of fame and fortune, or a sword in the guts, while the women and children tended the land.

Campaigns lasted until the fall, when the men were again needed down on the farm to help harvest the crops and slaughter the excess livestock. Festivals followed then everyone hunkered down for the winter. Martial thoughts might have kept the royals and their generals amused during the months of bad weather but real soldiering was put on hold until the next spring.

Even after the Industrial Revolution this pattern of good weather campaigning remained the norm. There were notable exceptions; Napoleon and his Grande Armée were beaten up real bad by the Russians in the winter of 1812 and Germany’s Wehrmacht suffered the attentions of the Red Army during fierce Russian winters at Leningrad, Moscow, and Stalingrad.

In Canada a few ideologues claim a war is being fought right now that does not follow the warm-weather campaign tradition—we’re on the cusp of winter. A handful of far right social conservatives (socons) believe there is an ongoing effort to erode our traditions by attacking how we celebrate Halloween, honour Remembrance Day, and celebrate Christmas.

The socon standard bearer in this struggle for our hearts and minds is the Sun News Network, as represented by their warrior pundits. The enemy, the Big Bad, the minions of the Dark Lord are atheists, liberals and the left, homosexuals, ecoterrorists, Muslims, and anyone who does not believe that Currier and Ives captured the true essence of Christmas.

Ontario has over 3,900 elementary schools and the first battle in this season’s war was fought over a handful of these schools that banned the wearing of Halloween costumes by their students. In these schools Halloween was called Spirit Day or Orange and Black Day and students were encouraged to wear orange and black clothing in lieu of costumes. This tinkering with Halloween festivities is silly, and a few parents complained to their respective boards on behalf of their children, but the nonsense hardly constitutes an assault on Canadian traditions or a growing trend, but that is how SNN commentators presented this trivial story.

In fact Halloween  has become a pop culture celebration for both adults and kids and it’s growing in popularity, having swelled into a multi-billion-dollar event right up there with Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Thanksgiving. Stats Canada estimated some 3.7 million children of trick-or-treat age — that’s five to 14 — were on the streets on the 31st. As a tradition Halloween is not being eroded, tis thriving. Unfortunately these facts mean nothing to those who believe Canada’s essence and spirit is under attack, and Halloween (All Hallows Eve or Samhain if you prefer) is only the first in a series of battles fought during the seasons of war.

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Sources: The Huffington Post, The Ottawa Citizen, Reuters, The Sun News Network, The Toronto Sun, Wikipedia