So, Halloween draws near. Everybody has a holiday they love, right? Some really care about St. Patty’s day (and why wouldn’t they? Two words: GREEN BEER), Valentine’s Day (cue sappy boyfriends everywhere), and some straight up relate to holidays that are barely even holidays…you know something like Robbie Burns Day. Yep, I said it. Anyways, Halloween is mine. Oh, and Christmas, let’s not forget Christmas.
But, Halloween is a time to dress up, let loose, scare yourself silly and frankly… eat an inordinate amount of candy without remorse. (Though I guess Valentine’s Day provides that allowance too). So, let’s go back to that whole dressing up and looking forward to a frightful night thing, at least that part is unique.
We watch scary movies, we decorate our homes with skeletons and we sprinkle our lawn with fake tombstones. Who in their right mind would celebrate this sick and twisted holiday? Who would force every new boyfriend to sit through a scary movie night and scare themselves shitless on purpose? Umm…I WOULD!
So why do we love it so much? Is Halloween just an excuse for you to temporarily become what you secretly want to be? Little girls want to be princesses and a few years later just cute, maybe even a little bit sexy, or dare I say it...slutty for the night. Sound familiar? Nooo, never. Men dress up as mummies, vampires, and creatures of the dark who are openly allowed to scare people without being considered creepy…and little boys want to be every childhood hero they’ve ever idolized and worshipped.
So, we have discovered that we kind of like all of this. We must kind of like the costumes, the adrenaline, the cute little kids, the candy, and the ability to be somebody we aren’t, otherwise why would the holiday continue? Who doesn’t want to be somebody else for just one night?
But, either way, we do celebrate it. And why? How many people really know why or even how this holiday started? There are a few theories floating out there, but the pagan roots tend to remain the same. The Celtics believed that spirits influenced their everyday world. In the autumn they celebrated the end of their harvest, or Samhain and the night before this momentous event, spirits roamed the earth as they travelled home for their yearly visit. The only tricky part here is, so did evil spirits.
Now, the agreed upon origin of “costumes” differs, but whether it was to appease the evil spirits and blend in, or scare them away – the practice of dressing up or disguising oneself was born. And why to “treat” has mixed histories too – was it to feed the poor lost souls, or sacrifice to the evil spirits…either way, the beginnings of putting food out also blossomed. There are other histories out there too that refer to the Catholic practice of “All Hallows Eve”, eating bounties from the Autumn harvest, feeding the poor with cakes and candy the night before All Saints Day, blah, blah…the list really goes on and on.
One thing is for sure. Today’s version is a big mishmash of all. Dressing as ghouls, giving out food, clearly “All Hallow’s Eve” and “Halloween” are a little too close for coincidence, and the story of “Jack”, the beggar who roamed with a lit pumpkin for a lantern may explain “Jack-o-lantern”. But, how much of this was folklore made after the fact and how much is true in origin is probably never to be known.
All I know is when you say Trick, or Treat – with people you never really know what you are going to get. And Halloween? That coin flip on what side of the human psyche will surface becomes even bigger. But, regardless of why we do it, how it started, how many pounds I’ll gain, or what side of people I’ll see….I can say without doubt, I LOVE it, and hopefully I always will.
The Ginga Ninja