Thanksgiving is truly my favorite holiday. Though I abstain from eating any meat or poultry, I love gathering together with so many loved ones and sharing such a wide array of vegetables: turnip, squash, pumpkin pie and green bean casserole are some of my favorites. But Halloween is a pretty close second.
I’m turning 50 in a few weeks but, if you turned those numbers around “05”, 5 years old is about how old I act when it comes to “dressing up” for the occasion. I have never outgrown it. No, I don’t go trick-or-treating–or mumming and guising, as it was originally called–but I like to make people laugh. Or, at the very least, smile. And, no matter what costume I decide on, it usually does elicit an upturn of lips wherever I go. To me, that’s reason enough to indulge that inner child.
Halloween tends to be a bit controversial within the Christian community. All Hallows’ Evening (Halloween is a contraction for this holiday), is said to be the time when the veil between the Otherworld and this one is particularly thin and the souls of the dearly departed are free to roam the earth–and, potentially, to right their wrongs. This, of course, has its roots in Gaelic traditions. The night of Samhain (pronounced SOW-en) marks the end of the harvest season, when spirits–or fairies–enter this world and must be appeased to ensure that people and livestock survive the long winter ahead. Earlier generations would invoke God’s protection upon approaching their dwellings, and guising–or the donning of a costume–was done to disguise oneself from the Fae Folk. The carrying of a Jack-o’-lantern by guisers was to protect one from any evil spirits lurking about. And, interestingly, the Jack-o’-lantern was originally either a turnip or a mangel wurzel (a type of beet). When early settlers to the Americas arrived, they adopted the native fruit–the pumpkin. Within the Roman Catholic Church, All Hallows’ Evening is part of the triduum of Allhallowtide, a time set aside for honoring the saints and praying for the souls of those dearly departed as they journey from Purgatory to Heaven. In many countries, All Hallows’ Evening celebrations also include a church service and the lighting of candles upon the graves of departed loved ones. However, as many Protestant religions do not believe in Purgatory, this practice, or belief, goes against their notions of predestination. Hence, some of the controversy surrounding this holiday.
For myself, the only “controversy” I feel about any holiday is the commercialization of it. Big box department stores have been lining their shelves for weeks with costumes and accessories, many of which will wind up in landfills after tonight. I’d hate to think I had so little gumption as to buy a costume. I’d rather give the creative genius a little room to spread her wings. Albeit, as I type this, I will confess to purchasing some rather toxic make-up to enhance today’s disguise. If anyone has a safe, less-toxic means of creating green face paint, I would greatly appreciate it for next time.
In the meantime, I am looking forward to seeing the smiles, and receiving a few chuckles, as I don this year’s ensemble. And I will continue to tell myself that the smiles and laughter are a tribute to that creativity and not the result of everyone thinking, “Look at that old fool!” Eh, you’re only as young as you feel…and I won’t say “No!” to a bit of soul cake* either!
May God bless you and keep you!
*Soul cakes were given during the Middle Ages to children and the poor when they came knocking during mumming and guising. They were cakes made with allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, raisins and/or currants and topped with a cross to signify their giving as alms. Homemade with organic ingredients they must’ve been much healthier than our sugar-laced commercial treats (albeit, I won’t say “No!” to a Kit Kat either…and hang the IBS! LOL!)
**Information retrieved from http://www.wikipedia.com for educational purposes only.