As our beloved harbinger of Halloween sang:” This is Halloween, this is Halloween, pumpkins scream in the dead of night”, it is time to celebrate All Hallow’s Eve. But, you may ask, what is Halloween? Well girls and boys, gather round and let me tell you a little story about how a not so innocent celebration became what it is today.
You all know that certain religions adopted certain rituals and activities that were not so, well, accepted by the church. Religions need followers, right? So the only logical thing that could have been done was to make these pagan rituals acceptable and not so sinful after all. Seems like a smart idea, and seems like bending rules and regulations is alright with god. It does not, however, change the fact that All Hallow’s Eve was a pretty awesome ritual back in the days, but today, it lost its magic.
All Hallow’s Eve was actually a day that was believed to bring the physical and spiritual realms close enough so that the worlds collide and intertwine, granting free passage from one world to another, this meant a huge party for the spirits. Just imagine, restless spirits wandering throughout the night, haunting, terrifying scaring the people. Some cultures believed that they should help these spirits, some chanted religious verses, some prayed out loud in the middle of spooky forests, some had feasts to please the spirits and give their gratitude for a good year. Some, on the other hand, thought that if spirits can scare them, why can’t they scare the spirits? They started dressing up as scary monsters, I do mean scary monsters, to scare the spirits back where they came from. Guising is the most popular pagan ritual that we all practice, call it an act of the Devil, call it witchcraft, call it fun. We are all doing it, you are doing it. There are of course many other practices that people do, but the two most common are trick-or-treating and making Jack-o-lanterns.
Trick-or-treat actually combines guising and going from home to home in your neighborhood, knocking on doors and asking nicely “trick or treat”. If the hosts like your costumes they give you candy, some freaks can even give you apples and such, but, if they don’t like your get-up they might not give you diddly squat. However, if you feel you have been cheated, you can always resort to the “trick” part of the deal. Egging is the most effective way to ‘decorate’ someone’s home if they hand out no candy. You better prepare candy or be prepared to spend your night making facade omelette.
Jack-o-lanterns are also part of the pagan ritual to scare off spirits, you carve scary pumpkin faces, insert a candle to glow in the dark and voila, you have your very own scare-a-spirit. Only 9.99, batteries sold separately. All of these things were meant to fend off the oncoming undead horde, whether it is an effective method, well, you be the judge of it. All I am going to say is that I don’t see any rampart spirits trying to haunt my toilet, however I don’t see the meek inheriting Earth anytime soon either. Just sayin’.
I believe the best thing you can do for Halloween is to gather around bonfires and tell scary ghost stories, not the cliché “…and when he turned around, it was a goat…” type stories. No, scary, underpants changing stories, something that is based on a true story or even better some kind of an urban legend, there are plenty believe me. The story is not the point though, it is how you tell it, how you set the mood and how you construct the buildup. And for the love of all that is undead, more gore and popping out skeletons does not mean more scares. It’s all about the fear of the unknown.
Sadly, nowadays costumes are more and more ridiculous, I mean dressing up as a giant teddy bear with a hanging tongue, what are you trying to scare, the blind? And remember kids, Halloween is not a poor excuse to dress up as a favorite character from your book, series, movie or whatever. The essence, they very soul of Halloween is to scare, to be as scary as possible. If you can become some kids’ nightmare for the next couple of weeks, you did a great job, otherwise, no candy for you. Don’t you dare say, you can’t come up with anything, you have the Internet.
Happy Halloween to everyone, and now children of the night, go out and scare, frighten and raise hell. Remember, it’s not about having a good time, it’s about making sure the World is safe.
By Dejan Vicai