We celebrate Halloween to become somebody else once a year, and not feel like a dork about it. To do “mischievous deeds” and not suffer the consequences, that’s why we celebrate it. Do you remember all your costumes that you wore when you were a child? Do you remember how much candy you collected at the end of night? Tell me the truth, have you ever egged or TP’d a house, or put shaving cream on a neighbor’s door or car? I never did. I was a pure angelic kid who just wanted to eat my way to a sugar coma. I would never dress up commando style, paint my face black with mascara,and hide in the bushes. Waiting for any poor victim walking by so I can throw eggs at them. That wasn’t me!!! But now those days are over. Now I look outside, on television, film, and I see a whole new generation of misfits and pranksters just itching to get their hands on anything that can be used to prank their next victim. Just like Christmas, Halloween is also now a cash cow for the candy and costume selling stores just waiting for the consumers to buy their merchandise. It is capitalism at its best, but that’s how we live in society today. We look at holidays and special events as a means to buy or spend the most we can and we truly miss the foundation of what the day is about.
Halloween, also known as All Hallows Eve, dates back two thousand years, to pre Christian Celtic Festival that fell around November 1st, called SamHain. This means “summer end” in Gaelic. In ancient times, SamHain was a festival where people would congregate and celebrate the end of the harvest year to prepare for the upcoming winter in which they stored their food, and supplies for the cold months. Since SamHain falls on the last day of October (Oct. 31st), and where the Catholic Church celebrates their All Saints Day on November 1st, their belief and connection to the spiritual world are closely related, and that the celebration of these occasions led to the creation of Halloween. Our customs and traditions have a spiritual meaning with both costumes and masks, and the trick or treating ritual we use today to get candy. But it wasn’t all fun and games in the past. Back in the late 1800’s, tricks were played on farmers with Halloween pranks like tipping outhouses, and egging houses. But in the 1930’s and 20’s the pranks got more dangerous, sometimes life threatening. Parents and other town folk leaders began to encourage kids to dress up and trick or treat for candy as a safe way to celebrate Halloween.
Vampires, witches and everything that go bump in the night were never a part of Halloween. Back in the day, some Christian’s believed that Halloween was a ritual to worship Satan, and because the Celts that celebrated SamHain were Pagans, they were considered devil worshipers. Today we use symbols like witches, vampires, and mummies to represent “evil”. Television and movies show us hundreds of pictures and tales of monsters to convince us that Halloween should be feared. Movies like Halloween (the original one with Jamie Lee Curtis and not the remake by Rob Zombie) put fear back into the holiday that everybody associated with candy and costumes. The film was a complete success and many other sequels follow behind. But the first two films captured my attention. The fact that this maniac focuses on one person and never says a word, really is the perfect example of what horror is. They even mentioned the history of Sam Hain in one of the sequels, to try to bring some sort of authenticity to the theme of the film. But instead of accurately explaining what Sam Hain is, the director twists the festival as a dark satanic ritual for the boogeyman. Many films that use the holiday Halloween as a theme for their stories don’t really capture the essence of what it is about, but it makes studios lots of money. Many legends and myths get told with connection to Halloween to enhance their potency of fear. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a perfect example of a story told of a headless horseman searching for his next victim on Halloween. Witches flying on broomsticks with black cats riding its coattails are a popular symbol of Halloween. Taken from the hysteria during colonial times where accused witches were burned at the stake, fear of them have been around for years. Everything we fear and find evil, are fodder to the mythology of Halloween. Television and films these days drill in our heads what scary is. We create monsters on television and on film to satisfy our need to be afraid. It heightens our senses and keeps our wits sharp. What scares us becomes immortalized in the myth of Halloween.
Halloween is a part of our American culture. We love to be scared every now and then, and the candy is not so bad either. But just remember that everything has an origin and we should recognize that. Today, Halloween is for the kids and the those who are still kids at heart, and that’s okay! But we should never ignore or forget the true essence of the holiday. HAPPY HALLOWEEN, EVERYBODY!!!! BE SAFE!!!!