Saturday, September 17, 2005

Halloween Already?

As I have read various blogs over the past few weeks, I have found that Halloween and other chilling subjects have been coming up more and more. Jessica Rabbit has begun putting up her Halloween decorations and dyed her hair orange in preparation for the eve of All Saints’ Day. Trish has had an “unfortunate” experience with a fortune teller. And me? I have finally brought into my house the artificial pumpkin that had been sitting on my front porch since last Halloween.

Through the years I have seen a growth in the celebration of Halloween. When I was a kid, we’d take a real pumpkin, remove the pulp, carve a face in it, stick in a candle, and that was our Halloween decoration. Today I see houses and yards with as much embellishment for Halloween as for Christmas. There is a street near me where people are extremely creative in their outdoor decorations: one yard is turned into a graveyard, complete with gate and comic-like gravestones. Another has a witch on a broomstick “floating” back-and-forth across the roof of the house.

I was living in a small town on the Ohio River when I first noticed people going all-out with Halloween embellishments. It amazed me. I could understand Christmas decorating, but I wondered what was behind Halloween? I knew that the night of October 31st, the eve of All Saints’ Day, was originally celebrated by Celtic peoples as a pagan ceremony that was carried on into Christianity. November 1st was considered the end of the summer period, the date on which the herds were returned from pasture and land tenures were renewed. It was also a time when the souls of those who had died were believed to return to visit their homes. People set bonfires on hilltops for relighting their hearth fires for the winter and to frighten away evil spirits, and they sometimes wore masks and other disguises to avoid being recognized by the ghosts thought to be present. It was in these ways that beings such as witches, hobgoblins, fairies, and demons came to be associated with the day.

October 31st was celebrated in Christianity as “All Hollow’s Eve”—the day proceeding All Saints’ Day, a day commemorating all the saints of the church, both known and unknown. In the United States today, except in some high church Christian rituals, All Saints’ Day is basically ignored. But Halloween isn’t. So this year I’ll probably join the majority and celebrate Halloween.

Perhaps I should put the pumpkin back on my porch? I will, but not until the last week in October.

1 comment:

  1. Put the pimkin back--you should have just left it there.