Halloween is that night when the kiddies get dressed in silly (and often rather expensive, as we found out this year) costumes and go door to door collecting candies. As a kid, of course, I loved it as much as the next person, however, my admiration for the day has waned over the years.
But if I look at it from another angle, I can truly appreciate the day. As a historian/archaeologist type, I always like to look into the traditions that spurred such consumer/greed behaviour. So ... where did Halloween come from??
The origins of Halloween are found in the Celtic or Gaelic celebrations of Samhain (now adopted by the modern Wiccans out there). Although I did find a Wiccan site saying that Samhain is for a gathering for the celebration of family and remembrance, traditionally it was a celebration for thanksgiving (a better site is found here). It was Christians who took the holiday and turned it into All Hallow's Eve to celebrate All Saints Day on November 1 and All Souls Day on November 2 (and so I find it odd that the Wiccans carry on with more of the Christian tradition - well, in all fairness, it might just be this one Wiccan group).
But to get back to the origins, apparently November 1 was the day to recognize the movement from the season of light into the season of darkness. And the night before was the most magically powerful night of the year. People gathered together, feasts were eaten and fires were lit against the coming darkness. And then the folks prepared for the hibernation state of winter.
Basically, it was New Year's Eve for the Celts. (And doesn't it make more sense to have New Years Eve at the end of a season instead of in the middle of winter so close to another major celebration? Oh well ... not my decision.) It was a very significant day - vastly different from what we celebrate today.
It does sadden me that this very important day for my ancestors has turned into a highly commercial money pit and junkfood-athon. But again ... not my choice
That said, life is what you make of it. My non-love of Halloween can be shifted to a love of this time of the year if I focus on the recognition of the turning of the seasons. It's marking the cycle. So today I am going to focus both on making Halloween a fun day for my son, and spending a little time thanking the Earth for all she does for us ... Balance, right?
So, however you feel about the day - lover or hater - I hope you do have a wonderful day, enjoy the sights and smells of the season, and remember to appreciate the gifts the Earth gave us this year.