Sunday, October 31, 2010


Today is Halloween, one of the oldest holidays in the Western European tradition. It is said to have been invented by the Celts, who believed it was the day of the year when spirits, ghosts, faeries, and goblins walked the earth. The tradition of dressing up and getting candy probably started with the Celts as well, as historians believe they dressed up as ghosts and goblins to scare away the evil spirits, and put food and wine on the doorstep to welcome the spirits of family members who had come back to visit the home.

Nowadays, of course, it is primarily an excuse for the nation's candy makers to augment their bottom lines (and the lines of our children's bottoms as well) by hawking tons of processed sugar. It's also a good time of year for costume manufacturers and the printers of greeting cards.

Halloween isn't as much fun as it used to be. When I was growing up, we used to play pranks like using large straws to shoot dried beans at the neighbors' windows, or writing silly messages on those same windows with soap. The neighbors would feign outrage, storm out looking for us, then invite us all in for hot chocolate or cookies.

In the year 2010, of course, they'd just skip the hot chocolate and cookies and go straight to suing our parents. Times have changed.

I think Halloween is a useful holiday for children. In a world full of things that are truly horrifying (such as radical Islamists who would happily murder you in exchange for their 72 dark-eyed virgins in an imagined paradise, mortgage bankers who would evict you from your home without a second thought even after you've successfully negotiated new terms with them, and politicians to whom utter chaos and disaster is preferable to compromising on any issue), Halloween lets us see horrible things that, underneath the mask and makeup, really aren't so bad. We can pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, because the man behind the curtain is really our friend ... as opposed to the man who, from behind another curtain, buys the election that is supposed to give you your voice in government.

Halloween. Have fun tonight, enjoy the gentle scares, and get ready for the really scary event coming on Tuesday.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



The Mistress of the Dark said...

The scariest costume anyone can wear: Tea Party Politican

Mike said...

Because of where my house is situated, I've never had a trick or treater in 34 years. Even with a new subdivision across the street. But I always have lots of snicker bars, just in case.

KKTSews said...

We got a total of 11 kids at the door. I think I"ll toss the extra candy before I eat it all. Best costume? A middle school age girl with "Book" written on her forehead. Sure, it wasn't complicated but it was original.

KathyA said...

It IS a different world, isn't it? Sad and truly horrifying.