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A World Of Chocolate ~ Beyond The Milky Way And Mars!
The highly commercialized version of Halloween today still has ancient pagan origins which cause some conservative folks to avoid this potentially playful holiday devoted to scary costumes and gorging children with massive over doses of Halloween Candy or other treats. Would you believe that North Americans gobble the most candy on Halloween counting for $2 billion in sales? Is this a kid holiday or not?
All Hallows Eve, from which Halloween is derived, is the evening before the Christian holiday of All Saints Day reserved in memory of the faithful martyred. All Saints Day is also known as All Souls Day to honor souls lost in purgatory. The Celtic Druids celebrated the Feast Of The Dead, or Samhain marking the death of the harvest season.
Druids believed that the dead would possess the living if they weren't scared off by frightening costumes and rituals. Bribery for the departing spirits were given a token offering of food, drink or other treats, this would also help the spirits pass over to the spirit world where they belonged. There were apparently feared consequences of not treating the departing spirits, so avoidance of being the object of a trick was essential. Tricks back then were possibly not so sweet and may have included sacrifices, dangerous pranks or other questionable punishments.
Halloween had it's origins as a combination of the Druid Feast Of The Dead and the European primitive New year which fell on November 1. The festivities included huge bonfires, drinking, eating, dancing and brawling. The fires and chanting were to drive way ghosts, witches, demons and evil spirits. If fire worked to drive away animals from homes, it would logically drive away the invisible evil. The Druids would also make next years predictions while gathered around the fires. The Feast Of The Dead and the bonfires were devoted to the ridding the environment of evil spirits and that theme has carried forward to today's Halloween.
Halloween has changed over the decades, picking up the custom of Trick or Treat from Ireland. Where rogues carried sticks and clubs and would beat the home owner if they didn't dispense drinks, sweets and other treats for their feast. This letter morphed into a more mellow version of simulated raids by youthful rascals who would gather treats for their subsequent feast.
ELF, the invisible health threat
North America caught onto the Trick aspect in the 19th century where Halloween ghosts would wreck havoc on rural America by playing various pranks, like putting carts and wagons on barn roofs. Farmers would use Halloween as a good opportunity to load their shotguns with buckshot to scare away the youthful ghost pranksters. November 1 would be the clean up day for the farmer or home owner who refused to give a bounty of treats.
My memories of Halloween were to hitch up my pony and cart and prowl the neighborhood, kids would play tricks on friends or neighbors that were considered cranky. Odd, how friends could suffer the same creative tricks as did the cranky neighbors. The short sighted house that didn't dispense treats could expect to have eggs thrown on their windows or cars, soaped windows or perhaps a cherry bomb or two tossed into their mailbox. Other people would discover that their home and all of their trees and fences had been thoroughly toilet papered during Halloween.
The pranksters would often be hiding nearby so they could witness their Halloween handiwork and get a good chuckle from the havoc they caused.
Was something lost once trick or treaters stopped going from home to home in their delightful costumes? Somehow going to a city or community event to pick up sweets doesn't hold the same mystery and allure of groups of children, supervised by their parents, parading around in their fun costumes.
Today's Halloween seems to be celebrated more by adults, isn't it fun to see workers in restaurants, supermarkets, offices and banks having fun? Maybe it's time for a nice roaring bonfire and gentle festivities once again?
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