Thursday, October 30, 2008

Scary Times Call for Halloween

For years I have had to defend my love for halloween, even so far as to sit with a shotgun in a pumpkin patch fund raiser to keep the baptist from smashing all the pumpkins. But now more than ever we NEED Halloween. It is no longer a holiday, it is needed as a social imperative.

Halloween as we know it started with the Gaelic holiday Samhain. Samhain was the final harvest of the year and seen as the Celtic new year. It was a time to prepare for winter, which to an Earth religion would be seen as death. So Samhain was seen as the time between life and death. The dead would return, sometime to cause problems. It was for this reason the the Celts held bonfires, wore costumes, and masks to scare off/trick the evil spirits.

As Christianity spread it mixed with pagan holidays. The feast of All Saint's Day was moved to November 1st, so the night before became All Hallow's Eve. All Hallow's Eve was seen as a time to remember and reflect on those that had pasted away the previous year. It was/is a holy holiday, with the best example being the Mexican Day of the Dead, Día de los Muertos.

It wasn't till the 20th century that this holiday mixed with popular culture. It is here that Halloween was "demonized" so to speak. While costumes and celebration are both part of the tradition, it wasn't till the 20th century that commercialization mixed the devil, witches, zombies, vampires, mummies, and other evil imagery into the holiday.

But what is more important to me is the personal significance.

As a child, Halloween is a time of imagination. It is a time get to add a costume to what you are already doing in your head. Plus there is the massive sugar rush! Its all harmless fun as long as a parent is involved to help control it.

As a teen, Halloween is a time to explore and be a little mischievous. You get to explore more about who you are or who you could be with very little social repercussions. It says more about you as a person about what you do on Halloween, than about the day itself.

For Adults, Halloween is a little of both of the previous. Adults get to act more like kids, with the imagination of children, the mischievousness of teens and the wisdom of adults. And that is the point of this. For one day, we get to let go of ourselves, our problems, and just get to be someone else. And in these troubling times of economic upheaval, political uncertainty, and general lameness, isn't it better to, even for just one day, forget it all and have a little fun, like kids.

Happy Halloween Everybody!



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