All Hallows’ Evening for a month

Originally posted on October 4, 2009 at 4:16 PM

Halloween is by far my favorite time of year. I know, it’s supposed to be Christmas or my birthday, but hey, that’s me. Some of the happiest times of my life were Halloweens when I was a kid with our best friends. And oh, the decorations. The costumes. The planning, the mischief. The candy! How could anyone NOT like Halloween?

Halloween stems from a meshing of cultural holidays and beliefs. Ancient Celts in Ireland used to have a festival called Samhain that celebrated the end of the harvest season. Wiccans celebrate a similar event, honoring the Harvest’s end. Celtics used this time to take stock of what crops and goods they’d gathered for the winter. Wiccans use this time, now, to acknowledge the things they’ve “harvested” in that year: success, love, money, goals achieved, etc. For both, it’s a time to step back and say, “Hey, look at all I’ve done. That’s pretty neat.” (Or, perhaps, “I need to try harder next year.” I think this is a wonderful thing for anyone to do, Wiccan or not.

Ancient Celts believed that on Halloween the dead could interact with the living again, providing the potential for danger and crop damage. This is where the traditions of bonfires, costumes, and masks come from. To ward off those harmful, evil dead. I would think that not all dead are evil, but perhaps since all dead can interact with the living, the evil ones do bad things while they can.

In mainland Europe, Halloween was for pagans until the popes stepped in, god bless them (haha), and decided to move the Christian All Saints Day to November 1. This was a very smart, sneaky way that Christians of yore had of reclaiming pagan celebrations for the church. Many of our current Christian holidays resulted from this practice, and thus many pagan traditions have been enveloped in US celebrations of holidays. Eventually, All Saints’ Day and Samhain blended, resulting in the generally Christian-friendly Halloween that we all know and love. Neat, huh?

This Halloween is a calm one, for me. An honest mix of melancholy and joy. To have a home, a fiancé, a kitten, and so many wonderful things makes me undeniably happy. Going through my Dad’s Halloween decorations makes me miss him, makes me sad, makes me nostalgic. I’m at the point in my life now that I don’t feel the need to put every Halloween decoration I own out. Just some favorites. It seems right that way, somehow. Maybe someday when we have kids they’ll want to go crazy with it. I certainly hope they like Halloween as much as I do.

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