Thursday, October 14, 2004
Halloween is coming…
Sorry about that. Have I mentioned that my favorite holiday of the year is almost upon us? Yes, boys and girls, Halloween, the one day of the year that you don’t have to be yourself. Of course, there’s a lot to be said about being yourself, but it’s nice to take a break once a year. I don’t know what I’m going to dress up as this year, but I’ve been tossing around some ideas. I was going to be Stevie Nicks, but then I colored my hair, so I’m no longer blonde, I’m auburn. So she’s out. Then I thought about being Elton John. I have a lovely purple feather boa that would be great for that costume. I’m not sure exactly why I’m aiming for middle aged rock stars. Even if I’m not Elton John, I have to figure out a way to incorporate that feather boa. Any ideas?
Every year the History Channel airs "The History of Halloween," which is one of my favorite shows to watch. I love educational programming at Halloween time. I’ve always kind of been an occult nerd, ever since I was in Catholic school. Probably because all that occult nonsense was forbidden, but I liked educating myself about it. So I thought Halloween would be a good idea for an E-Lo history lesson! Hang on to your hats, my fellow bloggers, we’re in for a wild ride.
As I’m sure many of my pagan/Wicca blogger friends know, Halloween’s roots are mainly pagan or Druidic in origin. So this is probably going to be old news for you, but it’s nice to have a refresher course once in a while, right? Halloween dates back probably 2000 or so years ago, when the ancient Celts celebrated their new year on November 1. This also symbolized the death of summer and the beginning of winter, which is also associated with death. The belief was that on the night before the mark of the new year, the veil between the world of the living and the dead was at it’s thinnest. On this night, spirits walked the earth with the living, and mostly caused havoc, ruining crops and doing some routine possessions. The Druid priests would spark up a giant sacred bonfire to scare the spirits away, and dressed in the skins of animals to discourage the spirits from messing with them. This festival was called Samhain, not to be confused with that band that Glenn Danzig used to be in after he quit the Misfits. Pronounced Sow-ween, not Sam Hane.
The Roman festival of Pomona was also at the end of October, and as Europe became more Romanized, the Celts adopted some of their traditions. Pomona was the Roman goddess of fruit and trees, so many kinds of fruits were introduced into the feast, including apples, the token fruit of the goddess. Ever wonder why bobbing for apples is a part of this holiday? Yeah, me too, cause that still doesn’t really explain why you would put your face into a tub of water and try to spear an apple with your teeth. But that’s just me.
As time went on and religions and cultures began to intermingle, traditions of the festival began to change. The spread of Christianity was rampant, and when the Church couldn’t get the pagans to convert, they adopted their customs and feasts and "christianized" them. So November 1 was designated All Saints Day, and October 31 became All Hallow’s Eve, dubbed Halloween by the pagans. This happened of course with every major pagan holiday, like Christmas and Easter. But those are E-Lo history lessons for another day, boys and girls.
The tradition of dressing up began with the Celts, who dressed in order to hide from the spirits. They did so in order to kind of mix in, and when Irish immigrants came to America, they brought that tradition with them. Although trick or treating didn’t begin with the Celts. It was a European tradition that was started on November 2, All Souls Day, where people would go from door to door, begging for soul cakes. The more soul cakes, the more prayers they would say in honor of their dead relatives.
The jack o lantern (like the one at the top of the page that I made a few years ago) is another silly story, stemming from a myth about a man named Jack, who somehow tricked the devil into climbing a tree and carving a cross into it to trap him. When he died he was turned away from the gates of heaven because of his evil ways (he was a drunk), but then he was denied access to hell because he tricked the devil. The devil gave Jack a lump of glowing coal and he put it inside a turnip to light his way through the night. There are many variations of this story, but they always end the same way. So people put lights inside of turnips, until they immigrated to America, and found that pumpkins were more plentiful here than turnips. This Halloween I’m going to carve my own turnip. After I bob for apples.
And that’s the end of that lesson. Any questions? Feel free to add your own little tidbits if I left anything out. As with any holiday, America commercialized Halloween, and now we must fight the masses at retail stores like the ones I work at in order to get the perfect slutty nurse costume. I’m not sure how slutty nurses have anything to do with the origins of the holiday. Personally if I were going to dress as a slutty nurse, I’d be a dead slutty nurse. No, I’ve been some pretty slutty non-dead things for past Halloweens. I’ve been a slutty cat more than once. I’ve stayed away from those costumes for a few years. Maybe it’s time to bring it back. No, I’d rather be a middle aged rock star with a purple feather boa...I'm just not sure which one.