Tag Archives: Halloween

A Few Thoughts on Samhain and Halloween

It is October, the wonderful month of color and spooky events. Winter is coming and we are getting ready for our long cold months by insulating the house, covering windows, getting our cars serviced, etc. Samhain is coming, too.  Most people call it Halloween and celebrate by buying candy and costumes and going to bars and parties.

I loved Halloween as a child; what kid doesn’t? I would agonize over my costume and wonder how much candy I was going to get and be annoyed when my brothers made me go home after a couple of hours of raiding the neighborhood for goodies. C’mon, there are lots of houses we haven’t hit yet!

When I got older I envied the little kids who still got to go Trick-or-treating. It didn’t seem fair that they could do it and I couldn’t just because I was taller than they were. To add to my dissatisfaction, I was a tall kid; I got my growth spurt early and it never let up. It may have saved my teeth from all that sugar, but it definitely messed with my morale.

To soothe my angst, I started to look into All Hallows Eve. I learned the history. I studied the myths and the social meanings and the religious significance of the holiday. I discovered the thrill of ghost stories and a love of low-budget horror movies. OK, I watched them from behind the couch because it was past my bedtime, but Vincent Price was my favorite actor almost until puberty was over.

I loved the idea that Samhain or Halloween was when the veil between the worlds thinned and the spirits could visit again, if only for a little while. The idea that those who loved us might pay a visit made me happy, it made me feel that someone was keeping an eye on me in a good way. I felt connected to family who had passed long before I was born. The Celtic custom of leaving food out for the ‘visitors’ made perfect sense to me. You should always offer your guests refreshment; that is what a good hostess does, after all. My mother didn’t agree and I had to settle for hiding cookies on the porch with a note. The cookies were always gone in the morning, though and I hoped that they understood.

Ghost stories always got my full attention. After a while, though, I realized that all too often the people who got hurt in those stories generally brought it on themselves. If you know an old building has a history of strange and bizarre events, why would you deliberately go there? Doesn’t that seem as if you are giving the disembodied occupants permission to hurt you? If there is an old asylum where people died and investigators have been injured, it seems pretty stupid to hold an all-night party there. So I tend not to watch those cheesy teen horror movies any more—after all, most of them don’t have much of a plot these days and they do seem to be what Stephen King called ‘torture porn’. Yuck.

But I still love Samhain. This Halloween I will light candles and pray for those who have passed on. I will make dinner and leave flowers and food out on the porch for them, even though I know that the food will be eaten by stray animals and the flowers will freeze. I will give candy to the little monsters and Disney characters that come to my door and I will decorate with pumpkins and spider webs and severed plastic body parts.  I will love every minute of it.

Find your peace, friends.

Rev. Zita

Enough with the Christmas Carols–a shopper’s rant

Enough with the Christmas Carols! It’s only October!

 

I am not a ‘happy camper’. This blog is being written for the marketing geniuses who have made this consumer quite upset. I’ve had it with you guys and your utter lack of a sense of the appropriate.

Yesterday I was in a large discount store where I frequently shop. Imagine my confusion when ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ started tinkling merrily from the overhead speakers. ‘It’s three days from Halloween’ I thought; ‘Shouldn’t they be pushing the candy? What about the little plastic monsters and ghosts, why weren’t they advertising those in a last-minute frenzy before store managers had to put them on clearance?’

What about Thanksgiving?  It’s like November doesn’t even exist on the advertising calendar. I admit it’s hard to think of a catchy little tune celebrating the death of a turkey but sheesh—can’t we finish one holiday before we go on to the next?  

I continued shopping, barely aware of the soundtrack that segued from one Christmas carol to another as I collected my bags of orange and black candy, my vampire costume (the unsparkly kind, thanks very much) and a few tombstones and skeletons for the yard.

I rounded a corner and stopped in utter consternation. What I saw was irrelevant to the Halloween holiday taking place this weekend. It was bizarre and completely out of place.

Christmas trees.

A small forest of artificial pines and firs arose from the linoleum; already decorated and pre-lit with flashing lights and ribbons. Next to them were the lawn ornaments: electric reindeer and snowmen, laden blowup sleighs, elves and Santa figures prancing across polyester snow like a macabre lynch mob. Tim Burton would have been proud to come up with something so twisted.

Are you kidding me?

A store employee saw my appalled expression and stood next to me for a moment. “Yeah, it’s a pain, isn’t it?” she said in a rare moment of retail honesty. At my bemused nod she went on to complain about how their corporate headquarters was ordering the Christmas displays put up earlier every year and how much she hated having to listen to the carols for three months.  I felt bad for her—I could leave at any time, but she had to hear it five days a week, eight hours a day. Poor thing, I felt sorry for her. Can you imagine having to listen to Burl Ives drawling on about that freaky snowman over and over again?

As I left the store I began to get angry. I understand this is the main retail season of the year and stores need to make the most of it, but come on! Stop patronizing me, already. I know I have presents to get and decorations to hang but it will wait until after December first.  I’m not buying a tree until then, either, no matter what your researchers tell you. Get over it.

While the advertising specialists try to force Christmas to last from Labor Day to Valentine’s, I refuse to bite. I’m going to paint my face and scare the caramel apples out of a bunch of kids this weekend, without an elf in sight. Three weeks later I will roast an unlucky bird and share it with my family while my brothers and nephews watch football and tell hunting stories.

I will keep my holidays in the order they come, and I will ignore your tawdry tinsel until its’ proper time.

The rest of the shopping world can do as it pleases, but I am mounting a one-woman rebellion. I will celebrate my holidays in their proper season, no matter what the commercials demand. Halloween, All Saint’s, Election Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and their kindred are not forgotten in my house. I will NOT be going anywhere near Black Friday’s sales the next morning, either. Pfft. So there.

Okay, rant over. Find your peace, Friends.

Rev. Zita.