Yes, it’s that time of year again – every kid dresses up as either a zombie, a witch, or Batman and starts combing the streets for sweets. Their parents desperately try and get them to sleep afterwards. The shops begin filling with Christmas things. Fake cobwebs reign supreme and that spider on the table is (hopefully) plastic.
All kidding aside though, I love Hallowe’en, despite it’s commercialisation. I love this time of year as well – everything turns a really nice, warm colour which is comforting despite the drop in temperature. I get to break out my scarf collection the sunlight turns everything buttery and lovely.
So some things about Hallowe’en you might not already know.
It’s not actually called Hallowe’en. The word Hallowe’en itself is a corruption of All Hallow’s Eve; which unsurprisingly occurs the day before All Hallows. This is a Christian holiday that takes place on November 1st and may also be known as All Saints Day. Traditionally the dead are honoured, graves are attended to and tidied, a special Mass is said.
All Hallow’s Eve itself was another of the Christian Church’s way of imposing their religion on the masses way back when in the Middle Ages. All Hallows replaced Samhain (pronounced So-wen), which is a pagan holiday about – guess what- honouring the dead. It’s a Greater Sabbat, and it’s the night when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead is thinnest. A good time for divination and for honouring the ancestors that came before us.
To bust a couple of myths that annoy me while I’m here;
- Blacks cats were believed to be witch’s familiars (a demon in a benign form that aided the witch in her evil spells and midnight demonic rendezvous). Hence unlucky.
- 13 is the perfect number for a witch’s coven – again, hence unlucky thirteen. For this reason I consider thirteen a lucky number. It’s amazing what a shift in perception can do.
- Sacrifices do not mean live sacrifices. Usually it’s flowers or food. We’re not complete psychopaths.
It’s simple, then, to see where the whole ghost/witch/skulls/general spooky theme comes from. No matter which belief system you ascribe to, this time of year is certainly the time of the dead, with rites of some form or another going on right across the world. Though why the spiders have to get involved I just don’t know. I hate spiders. Even the plastic ones.
It’s not even so much about celebrating death. It’s about celebrating the cycle of things. Our ancestors may leave us, but they also leave their lessons, and if we listen to them, I don’t believe they’re ever truly gone. And honestly, death is a very natural part of life. It has it’s place in the cycle just the same as the Beltane fertility rites in May or the return of light into the world at Imbolc (Candlemas in mid- February).
So, yeah, I love this time of year. It’s a quiet time of year. I outgrew trick-or-treating a while ago. While I was an undergraduate it was a Hallowe’en Corp night out in Sheffield wearing as much fake blood as was tasteful (or not…). These days it’s brownies or traybake, my Samhain rites and bed. And wine. Makes me sound like an old woman (which I’m not, how dare you), but there are other ways to enjoy Hallowe’en. Pumpkin carving, baking, stressing over assignments (this year anyway).
And hey, any excuse for sweets.
Be nice to black cats should one cross your path. They’re not unlucky, most of them are quite friendly. If you see one being hurt at this time of year, please do something about it!
Stay awesome, and Happy Hallowe’en!