Saturday, November 1, 2008
All Hallows' Even
So now that Halloween is over and i've eaten all of the candy I care to for the rest of the year, I thought i'd find out more about this strange holiday where people go door to door and beg their neighbors for cheap goods.
Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain. The festival is a celebration of the end of the harvest season and is sometimes regarded as the "Celtic New Year." Originally, the festival was a time when Celtic Pagans would take stock of supplies and slaughter livestock to store for the winter. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31st the boundary between the living and the deceased dissolved, and the dead become dangerous for the living by causing problems such as sickness or damaged crops. Costumes and masks were then worn at the festivals in an attempt to placate the evil spirits.
Interestingly enough, apparantly Detroit, MI is where "Devil's Night", the day before Halloween, originated. Starting in the 1930's, it involved petty vandalism by children and teens such as rubbing wax on car windows or egging houses. In the 1970's though, it escalated to serious acts of arson, and today Detroit organizes volunteer neighborhood patrols to keep the violence in check. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween)
While looking for relevant information about Halloween traditions, I stumbled upon a site touting religious intolerance. It claims that "A growing Halloween tradition among Evangelical Christians is to provide a type of horror tableau which promotes public awareness of conservative Christian concerns. In Arvida, CO, the Abundant Life Christian Center built a haunted house for Halloween 1997. It includes simulations of a bloody abortion in progress, a ritual human sacrifice by a Satanic cult, a teen committing suicide, the funeral of a homosexual AIDS victim, and a live action date rape scene" (www.religioustolerance.org/hallo_cu.htm ).
Wow... I think they win top prize for scariest haunted house. I think they kind of missed the spirit and fun of Halloween. I'd much rather have childlike fun and naiveté.
All politically incorrect church demonstrations aside, besides the candy, the true essence of Halloween is the costumes. People spend more time and money than they should picking out the perfect accessories to win prizes and admiration. While the top costumes of 2008 are said to be a pirate and witch for adults, and Spiderman and Hannah Montana for kids, I think i'd give the top prize to an acquaintance of mine. While all of her costume ideas are usually of the wall, this Halloween she decided to go as... Michelle Obama. While that may not seem strange by itself, I think I need to add that this friend is Caucasian and that her dedication to creating the perfect costume leaves no detail ignored. (She is a stout Obama supporter, by the way). Although I was a bit offended, i'd say you have to give it to her for ingenuity.