So anyways, I’m feeling like a hypocrite at the moment.
You see, I don’t do Halloween- not the version that seems to be jointly sponsored by Hallmark and Cadbury, anyway.
I get the pagan traditions, I get the whole Beltane/Samhain thing, although I can’t decide where I stand on the hemisphere argument ie whether we here in the South should be celebrating Samhain as Beltane- given that it’s our Spring and Beltane is all about fertility.
The astrologer in me gets the appropriateness of Samhain falling during Scorpio season- Scorpio being associated with the Underworld, with death and with elimination and re-birth. The astrologer in me also gets the appropriateness of Beltane, the Spring festival, and its association with the mating of the Maiden and the Young God with Scorpio.
Samhain is the beginning and end of the wiccan calendar- a time when the veils between worlds are said to be at their thinnest, when the Young God descends to the Underworld and the Maiden becomes Crone. I like the symbolism of it, the use of pomegranates to symbolise Persephone’s time in the Underworld, the idea that now we can bury all the frustrations and disappointments of the year and leave them behind.
Whatever you call it- Samhain or Beltane- I get it and it means something to me.
I don’t get this version- the version that we seemed to have imported sometime over the last dozen or so years.
Growing up, largely in country NSW, we didn’t have Halloween. The closest we got to it was on American TV. Friends who grew up in the city also don’t recall trick or treating, or pumpkins and dress ups either. No, it seems to be something that’s grown in popularity relatively recently.
Apparently the current version of Halloween came originally from the early Western Christian All Hallows Eve which itself grew either from or independently of (depending on who you read and who you believe) Samhain. Dressing up and trick or treating or “guising” and other pranks was part of these celebrations way back in the late 18th century in Scotland and Ireland, in particular. It was imported into America with the immigrants from these countries.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand the traditions of Halloween in the US and in Canada. I understand that it’s an important “holiday.” I even love that the pumpkin was originally a substitute used by the early immigrants to the US who couldn’t get their hands on the turnip that had been traditionally used. I think it’s great that those traditions survive. My issue is that here in Australia, we, until recently, didn’t have those traditions.
So why am I a hypocrite?
Because I buy into it.
Every year, I ensure I have sugar in the house- fun size chocolate bars, gluten free lollies, options for those with peanut allergies…yes, I’m a thoughtful hypocrite.
Because regardless of what I think, the kids (perhaps with the assistance of advertising, merchandising and TV) are developing their own traditions, dressing up, decorating their houses with what looks like orange webbing, trick or treating. They love it, so who am I to rain on their parade? I mightn’t agree with it, I mightn’t get involved with it, but I’ve got to be honest- it looks like fun.
That’s why tonight when the doorbell rings, and the dog barks madly, I’ll smile sweetly and offer sugar- saving the best ones for those kids who’ve made the most effort.
What about you? Do you celebrate Halloween?