Saturday, October 28, 2006

The death of Halloween

Halloween is dead and has been for centuries. But even though it's dead, it still holds a certain spine-tingly reminant of what it was before.

I remember as a kid getting all excited about Halloween. We lived on a farm, so my mom had to load us in the stationwagon (no seatbelts then) and drive us around. We sat clutching our big paper grocery bags, our masks slipping off our faces, until we arrived in another farm. Then my sister and I would be let out in front of various houses out in the country. My mom would wait in the car with our baby brother.
We'd trot up to the front door and knock, then hold our bags out and say 'Trick or Treat'! There would be a moment of "Oh How cute! Come here, Harvey, look at the little princess (my sister) and the witch! (me). Then candy or an apple would land in our bag and I'd turn around and my sister would hiss 'Say Thank you!'
That was Halloween. The next day (or even that night) I'd eat all my tootsie rolls and candy bars, and start eyeing my sister's candy. (She saved it until at least Christmas, eating a tiny bite a day...)
And that was Halloween.
Until that fateful day when a rumor swept the land. A razor had been found in an apple. It wasn't even ture - being an urban legend - but it swept across the US like a wildfire and changed Halloween forever.
Before, no one had ever imagined that someone could willfully set out to harm a child with Halloween candy or apples. But now it was the only thing anyone thought about. Now, our mother marched up to the front door with us. She would examine the candy, and any apples inevitably landed in the trash.
Who started that rumor?
I often wondered if it was the Thanksgiving turkey association, fed up with Halloween taking attention away from the upcoming fĂȘte. Or maybe it was an apple-hating club, determined to ruin apple farmers everywhere.
Whatever it was or who is was, Halloween was no longer innocent but malevolant. And maybe it became closer to what Halloween was originally about. In the dark ages when the religions were still fledgling and memories of human sacrifice, druids and witches were still fresh, Halloween was a terrifying night when the gates to the spirit world were opened and evil spirits walked. Turnips and gourds were carved into terrible faces to frighten the spirits away, and sometimes candles were set inside to even better effect. The ancestor of the Jack-O-Lantern was a hollowed out turnip meant to keep evil away from the house.

Now that Halloween has become a commercial holiday devoid of any meaning except costumes, candy, and pumpkins, we can take a moment to think back to when Halloween was alive and mankind believed that the dead walked the earth on All Hallow's Eve, intent on stealing souls.

Happy Halloween!!!!!!!


FeyRhi said...

I think the person that started that rumour, was the same person who started the one about there being syringes in the McDonald's playzone ball pits.

I wish they could find a better hobby. I love Hallowe'en, It's my favourtie holiday but you're right it's as commercial as Christmas now. No more funky homemade costumes, candy apples and popcorn balls. *sigh*

Thankfully my girls have great imaginations and love to dress up. One is planning to be a "Fall Fairy Princess" and the other a "Dead Zombie Goblin Soccer Player". (as opposed to a living zombie LOL)

Kate R said...

we do halloween with a flourish around here. Lots of candy. And so many kids that we don't bother closing the door, even though it's pretty cold. Whichever parent stays home sits on the porch to give out the candy.

And the parent walking with the kids (only two going this year, and one of them won't need an escort) have to help them carry back the pillowcases of candy from trick or treating in the neighborhood. The kids hide it from me and I only find it in the spring.

Hey I put up a meme and listed you and you failed to notice.

Sam said...

I read that meme and didn't spot my name, lol!
Sorry. (grovel, grovel)

Loved the arguments post - LOL -
Too funny.

Bonita said...

I love this post! Actually, I still love the Halloween tradition and thankfully in my small neighborhood (64 houses) we have a wonderful celebration almost like a block party.

Sam said...

Thanks Bonita!
I think it's interesting to see how ingrained Halloween is, despite Centuries of resistance by more modern religions.
Now I read that there are people handing out religious tracts along with Halloween candy - but I think that Halloween, although dead - has turned into a ghost and will continue to haunt people!

International-Man-Of-Mystery said...

Halloween dead? Don't you mean UN-dead? Mwah hah hah!

Wynn Bexton said...

I'm a kid at heart and love Hallowe'en, costumes, parties, (remember apple bobbing?) and all the spooky stuff. It's just a shame that it isn't the same now for kids as it used to be. And yesterday I heard about some stupid campaign to put carrots and cheese sticks in the treat bags instead of candy (because of the obesity problem, as if one night of gooey candy can make a kid obese! Sheesh, what next? Bring on the Reese's peanut butter cups and stick caramels. And what happened to candy apples with all the sticky toffee that nearly pulled your teeth out?
I went to a spectacular wedding on the weekend. The reception was a masquerade. So along with my glitzy sequined jacket I got to wear the peaccock mask I bought a few years ago at the New Orleans Mardis Gras.

December Quinn said...

And happy Halloween/Samhain to you, too!

It sucks here. Nobody's doing anything, they didn't even have the kids dress up in costumes today at school or anything. Apparently it's getting bigger-our local Tesco had some cute decorations and stuff--but man do I miss it like it was when I was a kid. Yes, before that razor-in-the-apple thing (although I never ate the apples anyway), when the streets were filled with kids. It was OUR night, baby! We didn't have to go out before it got dark, either, the way they do now.

I admit, this does make me very homesick.

Anonymous said...

Happy Halloween.

It's not traditionally celebrated here (the kids get their goodies on St.Claus day) but it's growing and of course, some of the little rascals have figured out Halloween and St.Claus day means goodies twice.

John Nez said...

Amazing that they can do without Halloween in France. Here in the states it's the #2 favorite kid's holiday, right after Xmas.

But in lots of ways it's far more imaginative and dramatic than Christmas. And since it's the only holiday with a costume, it really makes one's imaginary life more real.

My most Halloweeny Halloween was in Dobbs Ferry, New York... which is a sleepy little town on the banks of the Hudson just 10 miles from Washington Irving's Sleepy Hollow, where the legends of the Headless Horseman and Rip Van Winkle were born.

Something about New England that's especially bewitching.