No trick; Halloween’s a treat
I hope you have your Halloween candy purchased, have rigged up a costume and are getting ready to carve a pumpkin. Halloween is here and no amount of sober daily news is going to stop that.
For some, the idea of spooks and begging conjures up traditions of a pagan sort. Not for me. I just think it is great fun to don a crazy get-up, greet other strangely-dressed people and play a little make-believe during one of the last warm evenings of the year. There is a lot of really scary stuff in our world today, and Halloween is a time to get safely afraid knowing it won’t last past midnight.
Halloween had its origins in Irish folklore. Celtic farmers built bonfires and wore disguises so they would not be recognized by the spirits that roamed the land. It was originally the night when the ‘season of life meets the season of death.’ Or as we would say, it marks the end of the harvest and the start of winter weather. Druid clerics would try to discern whether their villages would make it through a harsh winter. It was a bit pagan, I must admit.
Pope Gregory the Third tried to turn the event into a more acceptable ritual by combining it with a day in November titled All Saints Day. The Puritans in our newly formed country believed the practice was inconsistent with their religious beliefs and dropped the custom. When the potato famine of the 19th Century drove Irish immigrants to the United States, they brought their folklore with them. The roaring fires of old turned into the lighting of carved pumpkins and costumes of all sorts appeared. It is surmised that the practice of going ‘trick or treat’ was a carryover from the tradition of poor children going door to door offering prayers for the deceased members of a household in exchange for candy.
I remember that, as a kid, when we went to our own house dressed up like clowns and hobos, my parents tried to act like they didn’t recognize us. My mother would always wear a silly hat and play along with the make-believe game. Every year they would present us with a cold pancake to feed our skinny bones. I don’t recall ever eating the cold pancake, but I did get to see my usually very serious mother in a new light. Maybe it is that playfulness that really gets us through the harsh weather and the difficult experiences of life.
This weekend there will be a big parade down the streets of Corydon. Floats will be decorated with goblins, ghosts, witches and fantasy figures. There will be candy given to eager adults and children alike. Perhaps some organizations will have cake walks, and there will be a lot of waving and laughing. Halloween is fun.
On Halloween night, I hope you won’t miss the fun. Turn your house light on for the little spooks, take your kids out in their neighborhood with a bag for treats and even dress up yourself. It is a good time for people of all ages to get to know their neighbors and celebrate the delicious autumn weather. We can all use a little flight of fantasy once in a while.
As children, my mom told us never to say ‘trick or treat’ as though we would ever threaten a mean stunt on the neighbor ladies who were like aunts to us. Instead, we were to say ‘Happy Halloween.’ And that is what I wish for all of you this week: a happy Halloween. So, boo to taking life too seriously and go have yourself a little silly fun this Oct. 31.