It's nearly that time of year again... when kids of all ages (i.e. me) dress up and trawl house to house with a torch in one hand and a small child's sweaty, sticky palm in the other. A child who is so excited by the whole prospect of knocking on a stranger's door and being given sweets instead of told to "*&^%! off", that she is screaming "Trick or Treat" before we've even reached the knocker!
HALLOWEEN, ALL HALLOWS EVE, ALL HALLOWTIDE, AUTUM EQUINOX, FALL SOLSTICE, CORNUCOPIA, DAY OF THE DEAD, DEVILS DAY, FEAST OF AVALON, DIA DE LOS MUERTOS or, in my day when there was no knocking on doors... begging... but maybe that's the cynic in me... or the jealousy coming out that when I was a kid, us Brits hadn't decided to jump on the American Halloween bandwagon. I obviously had a very deprived childhood.
Today's holiday is obviously the one we know and love. Dressing up in costumes and scaring the neighbours until they give you handfuls of sweets that should last you a fortnight, but in truth will send you to bed feeling sicker than you've ever felt.
But the truth is... the origin of Halloween has roots in Celtic Ireland, Samhain has surpassed the test of time, starting out as a simple bonfire night to honor friends and family that have passed on and remaining quite the same. Samhain is now the start of the Witches' New Year, as well as remaining the Celtic New Year. For the Celts, it a time of preparing everything for the winter, bringing in the last of the harvest, and remembering and respecting everything that happened during the previous year. For magical folk, it is a time for all of that, plus any divination for the new year. It is said by many that the veil, or portal or line of vision and communication, between life and death is very thin; this is a great time to honor those that have passed or receive answers from spirits with a much higher success rate! It is also an amazing time to sit and create a connection with a loved one that has passed on; you may be surprised at just who you connect with! So, if you hear a bump in the night on the dates of October 31 - November 2, don't be afraid! Give a friendly "hello," and that spirit will be on its way! Jack-o-lanterns make great lights for you and the spirits to see by during the night.
Of course, you try explaining this to the kids and they look at you like you're mental and say... "What, they didn't give sweets?" Oh and if you try and tell them it's the night when the veil between the living and the dead is at it's thinnest and ghouls and ghosties and vampires and all the monsters they were afraid of walk the earth, you get this from number one son... "Mum... remember... Spike said that Halloween is evil's night off." So much for trying to educate the little buggers!
You could also tell the two legged rugrats that...
In 1964, Helen Pfeil of Greenlawn, NY, was arrested for handing out arsenic laced treats to teenagers she deemed too old for trick or treating.
Or... that Jack 'O Lanterns originated in Ireland as hollowed out turnips with a candle placed inside them to keep evil ghosts and spirits away on the Samhain holiday. (They'd obviously never seen an episode of Buffy).
Then you could wow them with the fact that... wearing masks on Halloween originated from Welsh and Celtic traditions that claim the dead visit the living on 31 October. The Masks are supposed to stop the dead from recognising the living. (Again... I bet they've never even considered WWBD).
Of course, you could try and educate your own little monsters in the origins of Halloween... but how many of you would like to put money on the fact that they'd look at you, smile, wave, hold out their buckets and say... "Could this wait 'til later.... there's candy to be had!"