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 and 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.
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.
Not that my indecision regarding Beltane and Samhain has much to do with anything, really. It’s far easier to simply continue calling it Samhain- regardless of the seasons.
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.
More practically speaking, it’s also a time when the harvest has been completed, the year is done- especially as far as food production is concerned- and the barren earth provides easier passage to the souls lying beneath it. I can’t remember where I read that, but it makes sense.
It also makes sense to take this one step further to the idea that we now we can bury all the frustrations and disappointments of the year and leave them behind. Send them into the Underworld. In fact, I might just do some sort of ritual around that this year.
Whatever you call it- Samhain or Beltane- I get it and it means something to me.
Like the Mexican Day of the Dead- also on October 31- held to honour the deceased and to help with safe passage for restless souls. I get that too. Same same but different.
I don’t get this version- the version that we seemed to have imported sometime over the last twenty years or so.
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 and dress-ups either. No, it seems to be something that’s grown in popularity relatively recently.
Apparently the current version of Halloween grew from the early Western Christian All Hallows Eve or All Saints (or Souls) Day which itself grew either from or independently of (depending on who you read and who you believe) the pagan festival Samhain.
Dressing-up and trick or treating or “guising” and other pranks were part of these celebrations way back in the late 18th century in Scotland and Ireland- in particular. Originally, the dressing up thing was probably done to trick the ghosts of the dead into leaving them alone and not taking them back through the veils to the Underworld when they went.
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 think it’s great that those traditions survive. I also like how us Aussies are able to adopt the traditions of other countries for those occasions where we don’t have our own. Perhaps I’m a tad envious that I didn’t grow up with traditions like these. Halloween brings a sense of community and neighbourhood to kids who have been taught not to knock on someone’s door.
So if I get it, why am I a hypocrite? Easy- I believe in the tradition, and even though the tradition seems to have very little to do with modern Halloween, I buy into the commercialism.
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- how do you feel about Halloween?