As yellow and red leaves litter our streets and decorations of orange and black hang in windows, one can’t ignore that Halloween is coming. With it comes an array of costumes that also seem to be adorning shop fronts and display cases in our town. These have made me wonder how a holiday that started as a time of year when the ghosts of the dead were able to mingle with the living has now turned into a day to wear cute nurse outfits and politicians’ masks?
According to the Library of Congress website, Halloween originated as an ancient pre-Christian Celtic festival called Samhain.
“Samhain became the Halloween we are familiar with when Christian missionaries attempted to change the religious practices of the Celtic people,” writes Jack Santino in his article “The Fantasy and Folklore of All Hallows.”
Santino writes that missionaries assigned the Christian feast of All Saints honoring every Christian saint to Nov. 1 in an attempt to draw attention away from Samhain deemed full of “demonic gods and spirits.” But All Saints Day, otherwise known as All Hallows, did not wipe out the Celtic traditions but rather merged with them.
“All Hallows Eve became Hallow Evening, which became Hallowe’en – an ancient Celtic, pre-Christian New Year’s Day in contemporary dress,” writes Santino.
So flash forward a 1,000 years and Halloween has gone from pumpkin carving and trick-or-treating to what Forbes magazine is now calling the “adult take over of Halloween.” Two in three adults feel Halloween is a holiday for them and not just for kids, according to DDB Worldwide, a communications network. Some 13 percent of Americans ages 18-44 say Halloween is their favorite holiday, reports DDB Worldwide. Forbes makes the argument that Generation Y, referring to those born from 1980 to 2000, has yet to grow up, and now in their 20s and early 30s these “kids” are still clinging to Halloween.
The Sounder asks what is wrong with that? Some reasons we still love this holiday are: no gifts are required so it’s less stressful; family get-togethers are not necessary to celebrate the day so that cuts down on travel arrangements; pumpkin carving is an inexpensive and easy holiday pastime compared to Christmas trees and Easter baskets. Best of all you can be anyone you want for one evening and that is good for anyone – no matter what their age.