Halloween is a favorite holiday of many. It is a holiday when costumes and candy rules… a time when witches are reputed to be in abundance…a time when zombies, princesses and the latest popular mask craze can be seen, without installing fear, strolling down the sidewalks.
But, how did all this begin?
Halloween can be traced back to the 16th century. It has Scottish origins and is associated with All Hallows Day, the night before All Hallows Eve (originally called Even, referring to evening), and was a mass day for all saints. Basically, in a nutshell, it is considered to be a Pagan holy time.
Was the Jack-O-Lantern always associated with the holiday?
No. The Jack-O-Lantern stems from turnip lanterns, which were extravagantly carved in a ritual called souling, a remembrance tribute toward all the souls lingering in purgatory.
Where did the words “trick or treat” get their start?
Originally, “treat or treat” wasn’t part of the holiday. The treats were usually some sort of food that was given (to the poor) in exchange for them praying for the dead. Trick or treat began in Scotland as children would dress up (known as guising) and go door to door in search of treats. However, usually the child would have to earn the treat by performing a trick. i.e. dancing, singing, the telling of a scary tale, etc…
Was the treat always candy?
Not at all. With Halloween being in the fall season and typically considered to be a harvest time, apples (candied and caramelized), roasted pumpkin seeds and even roasted sweet corn were the usual offerings. In Ireland, there was also a customary baked cake called barmbrack too. This fruitcake typically had something such as a ring or a coin baked within it and the ring is reputed to indicate that true love is on the following year’s horizon.
When did costumes appear?
While there had always been costumes involved with the holiday from the beginning, it was through immigration that the holiday took hold in the U.S. However, it wasn’t fully grasped until the 1930’s, when costumes started being mass produced. Afterward, the holiday’s popularity soared with both children and adults and the tradition of the Halloween costume party evolved.
Speaking of Halloween parties, what is one of the little known games involved?
While most everyone is familiar with bobbing for apples and the telling of ghost stories, there are some traditions that remain unknown in popular culture. One such tradition is Scottish in origin and is called divination. This is where a person carves a long strip of apple peel and tosses it over their shoulder. The landed peel is reputed to take the shape of and offer the first letter of the first name of the person’s future spouse.
Was the holiday always associated with spooks?
Not actually. It is thought that the holiday’s association with the Pagans and the occult has created this “fright” persona, stemming from Christianity’s negative attitude celebrating Paganism. It is probably due to this misconception that today the holiday is widely considered to be a night when witches and boogeymen travel freely. With this notion having been ingrained into our psyche, the holiday is now tightly associated with monsters and fright and allowing a robust monetary gain opportunity through scary movies and haunted attractions.
Just the other day, I was pondering how good it is to be alive. Enjoying the point of very existence. Through the wind and the sun and the rain, it is been both invigorating, as well as pleasantly inviting. As a matter of fact, I can say I enjoyed every minute of it.
I have watched the neighborhood children run and play and I have seen lovers embracing in the dusk. I have watched young hatchlings becoming mature, only to soar away, never to be seen again. And…I have seen more than my share of horrendous storms that literally terrified me. Through it all, I’d have to admit that it truly has been both a wonderful and serene life filled with mostly joy and happiness.
However, in more recent days, my feelings have grown somewhat darker and frightening. They were subtle changes, but changes no less. These eerie changes are not normal, at least not the normalcy I had once known. It is excruciatingly painful at times, and I so desperately want to cry out, simply to aid and assist in eliminating it. I know there has to be millions of us that feel this way. But, no one will listen to our pleas. Our cries will never be heard. No, no one will care whether I pass on, disappear, and am completely gone. It is a loneliness that has festered, and I suppose it will continue to do so.
For, and its been getting more and more frequent, I am now forced to endure the horrible fact that the ones I have known my whole life, are now disappearing. The very ones that I have watched grow and blossom. It began occurring one by one, but is now to the point that it is unpredictable how many will be lost?
Call it a premonition if you will, but I know someday soon, I’ll be forced to succumb to the very same exact demise. I too will disappear into the oblivion. It is rather disheartening and certainly discerning. But, I know its coming…I can feel it!
It began as just subtle changes, but has become more and more prevalent. I am unable to move as I once was and now am somewhat stiff. It is discouraging and even down right depressing at times. I do my best to contend with it and consol myself.
However, no one will ever know and in there eyes, is probably considered by many to be a meaningless existence. I would wager to say that from most points of view, the plight I harbor, outside my personal point of view, is not worthy of caring about, or even considering for most. They don’t care. I do have this wild notion that many believe it to be a wonderful and glorious thing. Of course, I don’t find it to be all that glorious. On the contrary, I don’t want to die and find it quite horrible and maybe even despicable. I have grown to often wonder why, myself and many others, have inadvertently become the chosen ones, and therefore, are forced to endure and confront such heinousness? Why must I suffer with something that others find joy in? It doesn’t seem fair.
Today I finally may have come to grips with the potential inevitable that besieges me. I have closely contrasted and compared the symptoms. My terrifying conclusion is that they are one in the same.
I will consol myself, and accept the wind rustling past to be both invigorating and frightening, as it becomes cooler. And, it is nowhere near inviting. Nights are increasingly becoming worse. It is a time that at one time I relished but now am completely fearful of. And, each day’s warm glow is increasingly apparent to be a false façade that I can no longer feel or appreciate. It is as though the grim reaper is chronically standing nearby, yet completely out of sight, and simply waiting. He is, much like most others, neither understanding nor sympathetic.
I scream out in indescribable horror. Yet not a sound will be heard. I flutter, aimlessly down, across and with, the cold fall breeze. I know it is to my inevitable demise and death. I can feel it coming quickly now and gaining speed. I tumble, over and over, across the invisible force, constantly falling.
I’m fading in and out rapidly now. The glowing Jack-O-Lantern I’ve landed softly beside, and come to rest partly against, feels inviting…as I lie amongst my kind.
This week I have been interviewed by Nishi Serrano for posting on her Wandering Hallows Night Blog. By the way, Nishi is also a wonderful writer. Stop by and check out her tales. You may be surprised.
And...I've updated my main website a bit. Check it out.