HAPPY HALLOWEEN!


Halloween.
Sly does it. Tiptoe catspaws. Slide and creep.
But why? What for? How? Who? When! Where did it all begin?
‘You don’t know, do you?’ asks Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud climbing outunder the pile of leaves under the Halloween Tree. ‘You don’t REALLY know!’

–Ray Bradbury
from ‘The Halloween Tree’

All Hallow’s Eve – a celebration of the end of summer, the coming of the time of waiting, the time of the wandering dead. The traditions on which what we know as Halloween have been practiced for centuries. With bonfires and fests, the ancient Britons celebrated in honor of their sun-god and Samhain (pronounced Sow-un or Sow-in), their lord of death, who gathered the souls of the dead who had been consigned to time in the bodies of animals in punishment for their sins.

The Romans celebrated the same kind of festival at this time in honor of their goddess Pomona, a patroness of fruits and gardens.

I wonder if that’s where the idea of the pumpkin patch started?

It wasn’t until the eighth century that the Church designated a date for All Saints Day, which in November 1, the morning after All Hallow’s Eve–the vigil of All Saints. “She chose this time of year, it is supposed, because in her part of the world it was the time of barrenness on the earth. The harvest was in, the summer done, the world brown and drab and mindful of death. Snow had not yet descended to comfort and hide the bony trees or blackened fields; so with little effort man could look about and see a meditation on death and life hereafter.”
http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/civilization/cc0070.html

Some cultures spent the night before All Saints–or All Hallow’s Eve–staying vigilant, expecting the souls of the dead to walk the earth, since those liberated from Purgatory were free to visit their old homes.

It wasn’t until centuries later that people began dressing like the creatures of nightmares, performing antics in exchange for food and drink. This practice is called mumming, from which the practice of trick-or-treating evolved.

Begging at the door grew from an ancient English custom of knocking at doors to beg for a “soul cake” in return for which the beggars promised to pray for the dead of the household.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Tracy Garrett
History, Texas, cowboys, horses—these are a few of Tracy’s favorite things. Check out her westerns at www.TracyGarrett.com.
Updated: November 22, 2011 — 2:16 pm

9 Comments

  1. Nice to know where our Halloween customs came from, Tracy. Interesting how it’s evolved from a time of somber meditation into a night of fun. My daughter used to spend most of the year planning her Halloween costume. Now my little granddaughter (her niece)is doing the same thing. This year she’ll be a little tiger.
    Happy Halloween everybody!

  2. Good morning, Elizabeth! As a kid, I loved Halloween. I’m looking forward to seeing the kiddos’ costumes tonight.

  3. HI Tracy, I love Halloween. We had our neighborhood party on Saturday night and our four year old grandson, Captain America, had a ball. Our new grandson hasn’t arrived yet…he’s due November 6. But just in case, I bought him a “Boo” onesie. Ah well, it cost a dollar at the dollar store LOL. We also had fun picking out a giant pumpkin at our local patch.

    Have a fun night, everybody.

  4. With kids, Halloween is always fun. My older son is going as a mummy so tonight I’ll be wrapping him in cloth strips. My younger son is going to a football player. My daughter is the eldeest, and she plans to dress in pioneer garb, but to only be an escort. She feels like she is too old to ask for candy. Plus with the new braces, there is less she can eat. I made sure to buy candy for our own house that would be braces-friendly, though so she could still have some treats. Of course I also bought my favorites. 🙂

  5. I thought the people who make Snickers invented Halloween. Interesting!

  6. Tracy, thanks for the great post. My granddaughter just got her after school, came in and asked where all the Tootsie Rolls went out of the candy bag we’d bought from Sam’s over the weekend. Hum? I guess there’s a Tootsie Roll thief in our family. Maybe it’s Miss Kitty? Maybe …. I hope everyone has a safe and fun Halloween evening. Hugs, Phyliss

  7. My kids always had a great time at Halloween, both decorating the house and going door-to-door. But it’s been pretty much a non-event here since they grew up and moved out. We live on the end of a dead end street with few kids left in the neighboring houses so we don’t get many trick-or-treaters. But I always stock up on candy, just in case…

  8. Thanks for the info on the history of Halloween. We have lived out in the country for the past 20 years and just don’t get any Trick or Treaters. A family with three children moved in not far from us and I saw them load up in costume, but they didn’t stop. The town has a Main Street event every year and that is probably where they are headed.
    I miss the years when we lived in AF base housing and knew just about everyone. Halloween was a great time to visit. Parents dressed up and went around with their kids. One year my husband wore the clown costume I’d made matching the one I made for our daughter. He took a mug of something hot and did a “Trick or Drink” trip around the block with the kids. I think he had more than just coffee in that mug when he got back.
    We had a family Oktoberfest dinner last night and I gave everyone in the family their “Treat Bags.” Today I am eating the candy I always buy in hopes of Trick or Treater (hopes they don’t show up). At least I am buying less.

    Hope you all had a fun Halloween.

  9. Out here the houses are tucked into every little winding road around the lake. So our church–and others–do Trunk or Treat where we decorate the trunks of our cars and create a “neighborhood” for the kids. tons of fun for everyone involved.

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