Monday, October 31, 2005

All Hallows Eve

In ancient Britain this date was the pre-Christian eve of the New Year (Samhain) and Celtic Harvest Festival, when the souls of the dead were thought to revisit their homes to eat and drink. People left refreshments on the table and unlocked their doors before retiring for the night, then bells were rung, fires lit to guide the returning souls back to earth and animals were brought in for the winter.

After Hallowe'en became a Christian festival, supernatural associations continued to thrive. But now the event falls on the eve of All Saints Day. The celebration has become a festival of costumes and candy, and much of the history and tradition has been lost in the aisles of Wal-Mart where children pick their favorite TV or merchandising characters to represent on Halloween.

Those willing to participate in the ritual turn on their porch lights and prepare large bowls of candy or, in some cases more healthy treats, to hand out to trick-or-treaters. Here in Portland, costumes involving umbrellas are popular and today will be no exception. Big storms last night and more to come so Goretex required.

My plan is to lock up the dogs and cat and dress as a little gray-haired old lady. At least the little ones can come onto the sheltered porch to receive their Snickers and purple grape bubble gum (every parent’s favorite!). To all of you…I wish a festive and trick-free Halloween.


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