I remember when Halloween meant going into my mom’s closet and putting together something that looked like a costume then travelling in packs from house to house, extorting candy from the neighbors.
But there was always something special in the air. More special, than Mrs. Bergren’s homemade cookies; something really, down in my bones special. It always seemed so odd that that this holiday came from nowhere and just stayed – like candy corn.
Halloween is Samhain, which loosely translated means summer’s end. Samhain is a closure. It says summer is done; better clean out the random stuff you collected in your house because you’re going to be inside a lot over the next few months and you need the space. Summer’s done; build a fire, find a cozy chair and sit a spell. The harvest is over and now its time to clean out your mind’s cobwebs and plant your dreams.
The fire set on October 31 is meant to shine and warm all the nights of the upcoming year. Old lore says that the veil between the spirit and the tangible is its thinnest on October 31. It’s the night that the faerie folk travel to their winter home. Ancient history tells us to light candles and wear masks to keep the darker of those spirits away from our homes. Samhain, I love it. It’s magic and housekeeping. It’s costumes, candy and reverential introspection. It’s jack-o-lanterns, children, and remembering those we loved who have passed. It’s the sort of holiday that’s a dessert topping and a floor wax.
The Catholics tried to bury the holiday and it’s mystical whimsy under the weight of All Saint’s and All Souls Days… celebrations of the Saints, those in Heaven, and then the every-men, who reside suffering in Purgatory. But, you know that didn’t quite work and the holiday kept resurfacing. Then Protestants tried to blow away everything important and make it into a children’s party, but October’s reverence for our ancestors keep the day anchored from flying away.
Samhain, resonates with something deep inside, even if we can’t articulate it. Samhain, speaks to our childish fears and our longings for those who’ve died, while at the same time breaking new our $5000 dental work with a hardened Bit-O-Honey candy.
Summer is done and the fairies are off to their winter homes. Summer is done the year is over, what’s done is done, be like the fairies and move on. It’s closure in a world that that thrives on sequels.