Saturday, November 17, 2012

What are your holiday traditions?

When I think of the winter holidays, I think of the origins of the Holy Days...

I think of Angels and creches and friends and family. Well...the angel above is not quite the angel that I usually think of for the holidays, but let's just say I am thankful that I still have a healthy libido.

I love the holidays of the year, including birthdays, because birthdays, after all, are the most personal of holidays. 

I love the end of year holidays the most because they reflect on the beauty of life and the return of light to a darkening world. While the end of the year signals the shortest amount of daylight and the longest nights, it encourages us to reflect on the warmth of a crackling fire...the beauty of a snowy night with the moon brightening the landscape...the sound of carols and the beauty of stars glittering in clean, cold, windswept skies.

Halloween is the first of the year-end holidays. The time of the year when heaven (and hell) are closest to our plane of existence. Traditionally the night of the dead, when spirits seeking solace (or mayhem) return to earth to attempt to contact those who live on in abandon, unaware of the closeness of the other worlds. Modern humans follow ancient traditions without the foggiest notion of what they are commemorating. 

Humans have long associated darkness with evil. Samhain was the traditional beginning of the "dark" months of the year. Samhain is a Druidic/Celtic observance that has far more meaning than our modern Halloween. However, All Hallow's Eve (the Christian All Souls Day) blended seamlessly into the Christian All-Saint's Day, when the faithful departed who had reached Heaven were asked to pray for the souls of those who didn't quite make it to Heaven, and those who remain locked to the earth until the end of life.

Today I am talking about Halloween. 

When I was a child, we trick or treated everywhere without adult supervision. People broke full candy bars into pieces and we gobbled them as we walked. We got so sick on candy we threw up by the time we got home. Mom threw away most of the rest, except for the pieces she ate herself. We got popcorn balls, candied apples, and coconut marshmallows. Nobody worried about any of the stuff being tampered with.

When my kids were little, I helped them get ready for trick or treating by helping them with garish, scary disguises and ghoulish makeup. I dutifully ordered them not to eat any candy that was not securely wrapped. No popcorn balls or candied apples. I also warned them not to eat any of the fruit until I had inspected it. I sent one of the adults in the family around with the kids to make sure they were safe in their travels. And when they got home, we divvied up the candy to make certain it was safe to consume. A lot of it got trashed.

As the candy-giver at home, I always bought candy that could not easily be adulterated with cyanide or needles. I gave out wrapped Tootsie Pops, taffy in wrappers, Bottle Caps, Twizzlers in cellophane, etc.  And I told the children who came trick or treating stories about the old fashioned Halloween celebrations where people didn't go treat or treating, but had big parties where everyone was safe and drank cider and bobbed for apples. I told them that the costumes they love to wear were derived from older traditions. And every year, fewer kids would come to my door. 

I guess the story got around that they would have to learn something before they got that little piece of candy. LOL!

How do you celebrate Halloween?

Thanksgiving is coming up next.  Be prepared.



  1. Loved your description of the evolution of the upcoming holidays. Likewise the nostalgic look back of when we old folks were kids. Hope your holidays are joyful!

    1. Thanks, Cris. I certainly wish you the best of holidays.


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