holidays: halloween fall is here
Halloween is a much anticipated holiday, especially in the US. Children dress up in scary or funny costumes and knock on neighbors’ doors and shout “Trick or Treat!” From ghastly ghosts to pink princesses, they carry huge bags and open them for people to stuff in candies and other sweet goodies. This occasion has Christian origins and has been celebrated since 800 BCE. It precedes All Saints’ Day and the mass said on this day was called “Allhallowmas.” That’s why the evening was known as “All Hallow e’en,” or as we now know it, “Halloween.” Because of the US influence, a lot of countries also celebrate this tradition albeit in different ways, such as New Zealand, the Philippines, and Australia. The Halloween celebration has always been connected to spirits. The holiday is also represented with witches on broomsticks, goblins, ghosts, black cats, and other scary creatures of the night. They have become popular costumes and decorations to commemorate the holiday. Black is the traditional color for Halloween, and orange seems to be all the rage as well. Pumpkins are also a recognizable symbol of Halloween. Pumpkin carving is something adults and children enjoy together as a family activity. Jack o’lanterns are pumpkins that have already been carved with faces. This custom dates back all the way to ancient Ireland where a legend about a man named Jack was so stingy that he wasn’t allowed to enter Heaven when he died. The funny thing was that he wasn’t allowed in Hell, either, because he had angered the Devil. In the end, Jack was doomed to walk the earth carrying a lantern until Judgment Day. During Halloween, the Irish carved scary faces on turnips, potatoes, or beets to represent Jack of the lantern. The Irish migrated to the US and brought this custom with them. They carved pumpkins because it was a bountiful crop during autumn. And probably because it was much easier to carve pumpkins rather than turnips. It’s a good thing because I just can’t picture out a turnip looking scary. Today, Halloween would not be complete without a jack o’lantern adorning every house. It is a sure sign for children who are out trick or treating that the people in the house would be giving out treats aplenty. Another much anticipated Halloween tradition is the hayride. There are also haunted hayrides, corn mazes, and pumpkin patches. Halloween hayrides are a fun and memorable activity that children always enjoy. It brings a sense of togetherness in the neighborhood, where children not only dress up in costumes but also experience a hayride with their family and other children. Hayrides usually need a tractor, a trailer, and hay. Some adult supervision is needed to make sure the kids are safe. In some urban areas, you can substitute a pick-up for a tractor. As an american child growing up in the U.S. in elementary school, we would go on hayrides sponsored by our schools. After the ride, it was then off to the pumpkin patch. We’d even pick apples and drink hot apple cider from the orchards. Those were the good old days! For some, Halloween can exude an atmosphere of melancholy in the midst of all the festivities. For one, Halloween precedes All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. We are supposed to remember our departed ones. Also, Halloween occurs in the Fall, a season when trees begin to lose their leaves and change colors. The days are shorter and it can quickly turn to dusk. The mood of the environment can feel gloomy and sad, evoking similar feelings in people. To cap off the Halloween festivities, there are numerous horror movies that can send chills down your spine and make you scream at the top of your lungs. My all-time favorite would be the original Exorcist, starring Linda Blair. I still can’t seem to stomach green pea soup after watching her spew out who knows how many cans of pea soup. I also can’t forget that 360 degree head turn! Other must-watch horror movies include Halloween, Frankenstein (a classic!) and The Ring where looking down a well, even to wish, doesn’t seem as fun anymore. How about Insidious, and the new TV show "American Horror Story" (with Jessica Lange). One thing about horror movies that I find funny is that people seem to always want to take their date out to watch them. Most likely, they think that the scary scenes will make their dates want to cling to them. But what if their date is a screamer? They’ll have to sit through the whole movie with their date shrieking in their ears. Now that’s horrific! Some upcoming horror flicks that many people are waiting for include The Innkeepers, Paranorman, The Evil Dead, The Lords of Salem, Grim Night, Resident Evil: Retribution, and The Corridor. Time will tell if these films will end up as classics years from now. Halloween can be lots of fun! It’s never difficult to get in the mood and groove of the season, just make sure you keep a handle on the fun and not get too wild and make the festivities a horror story of your own!