Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, has mysterious roots, but is it really creepy? Some think this holiday is based on harvest festivals from the Celtics or Pagans, such as Samhain. The Christian faith celebrates All Saints Day on November 1, so “All Saints Eve” falls the night before (October 31). In Mexico, the celebration for Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) begins on October 31st. Wiccans believe that on this night, the barrier between our world and that inhabited by the dead is at its most minute point throughout the entire year. Whatever its true origins may be, it seems obvious that throughout history, this day seems to have been a common time to commemorate and honor those who have gone before us.
As a Lutheran from childhood, All Hallows Eve holds a special place in my heart for another reason. Reformation Day, which falls on October 31st, is said to be the day Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of his local Catholic church, thereby forever splitting the Christian religion and initiating the rise of Protestantism. (I like to think Martin Luther was the original Libertarian 😆.)
Sometimes this holiday is affiliated with evil. To be honest, I’m not really sure why. In my research, I saw many references to Pagan practices connected with it. However, they all seemed to be intended to respect ancestors or honor the memory of those we have lost. Many of these predate the rise of Christianity. (That religion is often wary of Pagan practices, which I think is incredibly ironic when arguably, one of the most important Christian holidays has all sorts of Pagan connections, ahem…but I digress. 😋) By its very name, the word Halloween has Christianity at its source, as it means “Saints Evening”. This is because important Christian feasts were historically held on that night, as it proceeded All Saints Day.
Unique customs are practiced on Halloween
There are some interesting traditions affiliated with Halloween. Carving pumpkins, dressing in costumes, and begging for candy on our neighbors’ doorsteps are some of the most well-known. But why do we engage in these activities on this holiday?
Ever wonder why we disembowel pumpkins, carve their flesh into designs, and then stick candles in them? Well, that dates back to an old, Irish legend. According to the tale, an unscrupulous fellow named Jack tricked the Devil into not being able to claim his soul. He then lived a life of debauchery thinking he had rigged the system. He didn’t bother to get God’s seal of approval on his plans though, and the Big Man Upstairs refused to allow Jack’s soul entrance to Heaven when he died. True to his word, the Devil wouldn’t claim his soul either, he would only give Jack one, glowing coal from the pits of Hell. Jack put that coal in a carved-out turnip and uses it to light his way, as his soul is destined to wander the world aimlessly for all eternity. (I’ll let you unpack all the moral lessons of that fable on your own time. 😜)
This custom has been seen across time, cultures, countries, and religious practices. An old Christian tradition was for parishioners to go door-to-door, wishing blessings on people or praying for the souls of their loved ones. In other cultures, children sang songs on people’s doorsteps in exchange for food or money. If neither was forthcoming, “mischief” might result. 😮 I mentioned earlier that some cultures believe this day is when the spirits of the dead souls returned to visit their former homes. The tradition of “trick-or-treat” may have come from people impersonating those souls.
Halloween gets more enjoyable with age…
I find I almost enjoy this holiday more as an adult than I did as a kid. I get to choose what candy to buy, and I can eat as much of it as I want, whenever I want (ha, Mom, you can’t keep me from eating Snickers for breakfast anymore! 😉)
I always enjoy handing treats out to the neighborhood kids (even though I am quickly humbled by just how OLD I really am!) I’ve learned not to “guess” the kids’ costumes anymore, I just ask them what they’re dressed as. In the past, I’ve frequently guessed something like Harry Potter, and am quickly corrected by a very annoyed looking 10-year old who informs me it’s a character I’ve never heard of before. 😋
It also helps that our neighborhood is so charming. We basically live in Mayberry (and if you don’t understand that reference, PLEASE, Google it! 😮😉) I mean that in the best way possible. I LOVE our neighborhood. It’s so nice to see kids still dress up and go to their neighbor’s door bleating the singsong “trick-or-treat!” (and most of them are SO polite, I get MANY “thank-you’s!” throughout the night!) Some bring their younger siblings, while some are older teenagers who are still kids at heart.
And yes, I DO NOT care how old you are. If you are willing to throw off societal convention for a few hours, dress up like a goofball, and unleash your inner six-year-old, you can get candy at my house! 😀 Anything that gets kids off their devices and encourages them to just act like kids is ok in my book! 👍
Trekker Halloween Traditions
The Trekker Halloween starts with a trip to the pumpkin patch a week or so before the festivities begin. Then, the night before, we carve our pumpkins (we can’t do it any earlier, the neighborhood deer eat them! 😮 ) We snarf down on pre-Halloween candy 😉 and listen to Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds”. We also try to sneak in a reading of Edgar Allen Poe’s “Nevermore” as well, for good measure. 🎃 Then, the night of, it’s a frozen Tombstone pizza for dinner (they aren’t even that good, but Tombstone is pretty fitting on Halloween, right? 😉) If we’re lucky, and it’s a warm night, the Trekkers and the dog chill out on the front porch and wait for the kiddos to arrive. If it’s cold, we just hang out inside instead.
Once the miniature goblins and superheroes have ceased casting shadows on our doorstep, we’ll retire to the basement, with our own bucket of reserved candy (hey, we paid for it! 😉), to watch two of our annual favorites, It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and The Crow. (Those two aren’t complete contradictions of each other…right?) 🤷😉. We’ve also started adding Sleepy Hollow to the mix!
So feel free to let your freak flag fly a little on this holiday. We all deserve to tap into our inner child from time to time. Happy Halloween everyone! 🎃
What are your Halloween traditions? Tell me about them in the comments!
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