One of my grandfathers was born on Hallowe’en. He wanted his birthday celebration to take a back seat to the holiday. He was a natural grandpa who loved all kids. He especially looked forward to the trick or treaters who roamed through the neighborhood. Grandpa truly “owned” Hallowe’en.
Hallowe’en was also a big deal for great-aunt Emma. Her house was the most popular one in the neighborhood because she handed out the most amazing homemade sweets. Her standard fare included chocolate fudge cubes and caramel cubes. She didn’t skimp on the size of the cubes; they were big and chewy. Some years, Emma prepared popcorn balls for family members only. We kids and our parents each got one. I usually saved mine until the next day to savor later.
Hallowe’en has never felt like a religious holiday to me, even though it has ancient religious roots. Its history goes beyond the Roman Catholic Church’s “All Saint’s Day”, “the feast of All Hallow’s Day”, and the three-day observance of “Allhallowtide”.
Halloween-like festivals and holy days pre-date Christianity by a long-shot. This was a major festival time for the original religions of the British Isles. “Samhain” is still celebrated by people who believe in Gaelic rooted religions. Southern Europeans, during Ancient Roman times, celebrated “Pomona”–a harvest-type festival. Romans also honored the dead by celebrating “Parentalia” and “Lemuria” at around this time of the year. Many other non-Christian and non-Western religions have similar celebrations in Autumn.
To me, Hallowe’en is all about fun, thumbing my nose at superstitions, and maybe dressing up. Although I don’t go all-out with elaborate outdoors displays, I do dress up in a simple costume and share treats with the little neighborhood bumpkins. Tonight, I’ll wear an Aloha shirt and my Panama hat.
Hallowe’en is really all about letting our hair down and having some spooky fun.