Is it Fabulous Fun or a Frightening Fad?
As the year rolls round and we slide into winter, even with a time change designed to keep our kids out of darkness, creative homemakers view the last day of October, October 31st, with some misgiving. Is this American tradition, which is now firmly embedded in our culture, sick or sensational; good or evil?
The Origins of Halloween
Historians are not quite sure how this holiday entered into the eerie fabric of our culture. The most popular interpretation is that long, long before the birth of Christ, in the Celtic world of Ireland, England, and parts of France, the end of summer harvest was celebrated, with the New Year beginning shortly after. It was said that on the last night of the year the curtain between alive and dead was at its thinnest, and the ghosts of the dead came out to roam the countryside. The frightened people lit bonfires to keep away the evil spirits and if they walked abroad, they would light their way with a candle in a hollowed out turnip which they had carved with an ugly face. Halloween survived in the Catholic Celtic world, and it even survived the Protestant Reformation with its rejection of all things Catholic, false or symbolic. Halloween, as it exists in America today, was brought here in the mid 1800s, when more than a million Irish immigrants made their way to America, following the disastrous Potato Famine. Once here, they discovered that pumpkins were far easier to carve with funny faces, than turnips.
These Irish immigrants, rather than dressing as Saints in a Church parade, asking for soul cakes in return for prayer, got creative with spectacular costumes and went from house to house begging for handouts – and they found it was a lot fun! This was when, in good Irish, elfish mischief, the tricks entered in. Most were centered around the outhouse, and Halloween tricks tamed down when good plumbing became the order of the day. It was in the 1920s that children began to dress up and go from door to door. The idea was to get to know the neighbors, and to foster community spirit. Various bad incidents put a damper on the celebration in the 1970s, but by the year 2000 it was estimated that 92 percent of all American kids went Trick or Treating.
You as a Creative Home Maker
Would you want to deny these beautiful children below the glorious fun of Halloween? All are loved to the degree their parents or grandparents asked us to do a family portrait to keep them alive in the treasure of their family memories. In the innocent world of my new granddaughter, Sofia, I observe that there has been a shift from ghouls and brimstone and lightning, and the fires of hell, to creating an opportunity for the kids to explore new realities. last year Sofia was Rapunzel and this year she will be Cinderella wearing her costume first at the end of September (her birthday) to Disneyland. So in 2012 with parent’s policing the excessive sugar and shepherding their children around from house to house, the kids are having a grand ol’ time for Halloween!
From the Comfort Zone
Bring us your photographs and we will help you preserve your treasured memories. (We’d love to see a photograph of your child in a Halloween costume!) We would surely post it on this blog and on our website.
Quote for the Week
Eat, drink and be scary. ~Author Unknown