Halloween. People love, hate it or are indifferent.
I did Trick or Treat for UNICEF growing up, but as a country kid with grandparents not in the area, never went trick or treating in the neighborhood. I did win a costume contest for Sunday School party–wore my hot, miserable plastic mask and my dad’s flannel shirt and work gloves. My LONG hair–yes, I really could sit on it–was bundled up and hidden under a hat and I wore an old coat and my dad’s boots. My mom dropped me off 2 blocks from church and gave me strict orders to not talk to anyone until it was time to reveal. I remember shuffling that last block and then about wiping out going down the church steps to the basement. Everyone guessed and guessed and the adults were the worst as they tried to pull my mask off. They were so stunned to find out it was me! Probably my last Halloween party, but the rest of you revelers make up for me!
Halloweens origins were slow to become popular in the US until the Irish arrived and resurrected [no pun intended] the traditions that were popular for centuries by their Celtic ancestors. Celebrated on 1 November, this festival celebrated the end of the harvest season and the bonfires that were used 31 October, were used 1 November to start the hearth fires for the winter season.
Although I am not old enough to remember All Saints Day being named to 2Nov. in 1000BC, I do remember the 31October calendar saying “All Hallow’s Eve”.
Fast forward to the Irish Potato famine bringing shiploads of those Celtic decendants to the New World and bringing their traditions with them.
In the late 1800’s, folks dressed up and had parties but asked that scary or grotesque masks be removed from the festivities.
By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide Halloween parties as the featured entertainment. Families offered treats to children to prevent the “tricks” from occuring.
Somewhere along the way, the bobbing for apples became peeling apples in a single peel and throwing it over the shoulder and if everything worked, the peel would form a letter of the future spouse. There seemed to be a whole lot of match making going on with the holiday. Staring into a mirror long enough would eventually reveal the future spouse. Single girls would do tricks with apples and mirrors and string to get dates. I guess that beat out hitting them with pantyhose with soap bars in it.
Haunted houses started in the 1930’s in where else but California–but it was started as a fundraiser. My beloved Disney Haunted Mansion arrived in 1969. I love that ride and you never knew who was going to appear in your cart as you exited the mansion.
Today, Halloween is the 2nd largest celebrated holiday, with experts projecting a $9.1 BILLION [yes, Virginia, Billion with a B] in sales of candy, costumes and decor.
Move a little to the South and celebrate Dia de los Muertos throughout Mexico and Latin America on 1 and 2 of November. Death is a part of life and celebrating those who have died is a happy thought for me. 1 November is observed for departed children; 2 November for departed adults.
Convinced the dead would be insulted with sadness, Dia de los Muertos celebrates with fun festivals, dance and the glorious food! The house is decorated, the flowers are put in place, a setting at the table is made for departed family members and their favorite foods are prepared. Graves are decorated, parades and dances are held. It is NOT Halloween in Mexico.
Look for “Coco” to appear at the theatres in November! I am looking forward to this Disney diversity as there are so many misconceptions about Dia de Los Muertos. Plus Frida Kahlo makes an appearance in this film! An artist in the male dominated world of the 1920’s, she moved on to Mexican folk art and non murals and she was so much more than that!
But that is a story for another day!