I wrote an article in examiner.com on the connection of Halloween with the Jewish holiday of Sukkot:
I have often heard and read that the Jewish holiday most resembling Halloween is Purim, mostly because of masquerading and varied forms of “Trick or Treating” that connect the two days. It is possible, however, that the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, which ended just a few days ago, best fits this bill.
Both Sukkot and the American version of Halloween are harvest festivals, marking the end of the agricultural cycle. We see symbols of pumpkins, corn husks and scarecrows on Halloween, and, on Sukkot, palm, myrtle, and willow branches; citrons; and outdoor huts primarily built of vegetation.
Both holidays mark the autumn season when plant life slowly begins to shrivel and die as we edge toward winter, and themes of death dominate.
Halloween has scary pumpkins, frightful costumes and more recently, its own horror movies.
Sukkot is called “chag ha-asif,” which doubles as “the harvest celebration” and “the holiday of death.” On Sukkot, we read the book of Ecclesiastes, whose Hebrew name, “Kohelet,” has the same double translation as “asif” (harvest/death). King Solomon, as Ecclesiastes, focuses on the futility of our transient, physical universe, and he teaches that “better is the day of death than a birthday” (7:1). The sukkah is invalid unless the roof is made up of shrubs that are dead (Tractate Sukkah 1:4).
The messages of the two harvest festivals may be contrasted: Halloween emphasizes fear of death, while Sukkot is dubbed “the holiday of happiness” by our sages. This may teach that acceptance of death is the key to finding true happiness.
If we ponder this point, we may come to realize that uniqueness and meaning is a direct product of death. If each moment lived forever, it would not be a unique moment in time. If all people lived forever, they would lose their uniqueness as well. Ironically, it is death that provides our significance as individuals.
Sukkot, the festival of death, is the culmination of a month, Tishrei, which provides each of us with distinctness in a transient world created solely for the purpose of providing individual significance.
As we approach the cold winter months, the harvest festival of Sukkot reveals that, to appreciate life, we should not fear death but savor the opportunity only a world that will eventually die can offer us. Carry this lesson with you, and you will relish life, and find true happiness always.