“A Haunting We Will Go!”

by Jack O' Lantern

Are there really ghosts? Was Dracula a Republican? Do you have Vampire Bats living in your attic. Can metal really be turned into gold? Are there really alien beings living on Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall? Halloween is the time to consider these haunting questions.

When Halloween rolls around every October 31st, the Fall season sets in and puts a chill into the air, and the leaves begin to turn to hues of yellow and red. This day conjures up spooky visions of hobgoblins, witches, monsters, vampire bats, ghosts, haunted houses and other scarry things.

Ripened golden orange pumpkins are harvested from the fields. Their personalities come alive when faces are carved into them. The pumpkin faces glow in the night with sometimes sinister, sometimes funny smiles, when candles are placed inside and lit and the rich smell of pumpkin emanates from within. Curiously though, pumpkin pies have to wait around another month until Thanksgiving to make their appearances.

On Halloween, nothing is the same as it was the day before. Spooks are everywhere. Costume parties are held at schools, bank tellers and other normally normal people in businesses somehow have transformed into different creatures. Beware! And don’t forget to stock up with plenty of treats - to avoid tricks. After candy night, dentists will have plenty of business. Everyone has fun and adults get to be kids again this one night in the year.

Halloween originated as an ancient pre-Christian Druidic fire festival called "Samhain," celebrated by the Celts in Scotland, Wales and Ireland. It was the feast of the dead in Pagan and Christian times - it signaled the close of harvest and the initiation of the winter season. Faeries were imagined as particularly active at this season.

Scottish, Welsh and English immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century. Several other western countries also embraced the holiday as a part of American pop culture.

The name Halloween, or the "Hallow E'en" as they call it in Ireland , means "All Hallows Eve," or the night before the "All Hallows." It is also called "All Hallowmas," or "All Saints," or "All Souls' Day." In old English the word "Hallow" meant "sanctify." Roman Catholics, Episcopalians and Lutherians used to observe "All Hallows Day" to honor all Saints in heaven. They used to consider it with all solemnity as one of the most significant observances of the Church year.

Many European cultural traditions believe that Halloween is one of the liminal times of the year when spirits can make contact with the physical world and when magic is most potent.

On Halloween night adults and children dress up as creatures from the underworld - ghosts, ghouls, zombies, witches and goblins - and in someplaces, bonfires are lit and fireworks are set off. The children knock on neighbors' doors in order to gather candy, fruit and nuts. Salt was once sprinkled in the hair of the children to protect them against evil spirits. Games such as bobbing for apples are popular at Halloween.

In Scotland a lot of folklore, revolves around the belief in faeries. On Halloween, children dress up in costumes and carry around a "Neepy Candle," a devil face carved into a hollowed out Neep (turnip), lit from inside, to frighten away evil faeries.

It's getting dark now. Don't be afraid.




Cover | Contents | Archive | Contact