The fog rolls in and the street light is barely visible through the thick mist. Only the sound of your shoes tapping against the pavement gives you a sense of comfort as you make your way home. Just beyond the the dense fog, you see a figure standing. You wonder to yourself, "How bizarre..." and you keep walking towards the silhouette with no other path in sight. Closer and closer you walk, until finally you can see the strange outline of the figure before you...
Halloween is upon us folks and each year it becomes something different. Sadly, I've seen it transform from something innocent into something that I don't really consider Halloween anymore. But then again, this holiday wasn't always about dressing up in cute costumes; it used to be something else. Years of cultural clashing has changed it into what it is today, and it's actually quite amazing to see how it transformed! So let's start with the beginning.
What season does Halloween fall under? Well it's Autumn of course! The leaves change color and begin to fall like snow. The wind gets a little chillier, but it's still pleasant enough to go outside. But did you know that long time ago, before refrigerators and grocery stores, Autumn was the Harvesting Season? It's this point in time that farmers would harvest any vegetables or fruits that they were growing and then store them away for the winter, so that they didn't have to worry about their plants dying in the cold. Think about it; Thanksgiving is also in Autumn and that's when everyone feasts of the bountiful harvest!. So long before any culture had influence, Halloween was a day of harvest that rolled into the month of November.
Now here is where things start to change a bit. If we look at the holiday in other countries, then we get a similar description. Halloween is the day were "the dead walk among the living". Some cultures believed that spirits coming back from the dead were evil, so they would dress up as ghouls to scare the spirits and make them flee back to the other world. Sometimes dressing up as ghosts would make spirits believe that they were simply among other ghosts, and thus left any living person alone. Offerings were made to appease wandering spirits. This dates back to the Celtic people from 2,000 years ago. As time moved forward, different religions and cultures adopted the idea and shaped it into something that would match them.
Take Jack o' Lanterns for example. They were originally meant to be hallowed out turnips with candles inside. The candle inside would connote a soul trapped in purgatory. Today, they are more of decorations. Another example would be "Dia de Muertos" or Day of the Dead. It also goes by a similar title: "Day of the Innocents". It's a day for ancestors to come back and visit their future generations that rolls into the first days of November. Food and treats are put out for deceased family members and skull masks are made to scare off evil spirits.
I'm sure that I got a few details wrong (or right? I asked a friend), but the point in this is that Halloween has changed over the years. It's no longer a harvest day or anything else. Instead, it's a fun holiday where people can dress up for a day to be something they are not. The Spirit of Halloween is still present in our actions even though we have forgotten it's meaning over time. Have fun during Halloween and remember to scare away the evil spirits that might haunt your streets. You never know...that dark silhouette you saw might have been a ghost. Trick the evil spirits and treat the friendly ghosts! Stay safe out there!