Halloween has ancient traditions

The more things change the more they stay the same

As the children prepare for trick or treat dressed in their Halloween costumes they are participating in a centuries old custom; one that dates back thousands of years to ancient Celtic Ireland.

At that time November 1 was the beginning of the new year. It marked the end of summer and the growing season and the beginning of the long, dead, winter. On the night of Oct. 31, it was thought that the line between the living and the dead was very thin and the spirits would come down to roam the earth. To ward off evil spirits and not to be confused for a wandering spirit the people wore costumes and gathered at a huge bonfire attended to by the Druid priests. After the celebration the people went home and took a piece of the sacred bonfire with them to relight their hearth fires hoping it would protect them from misfortunes during the coming winter.

How Halloween got its name

When Christianity came to Ireland in the 800’s Pope Boniface IV replaced the pagan celebration to honor the dead with the Christian custom of making November 1 a day to honor the martyrs and saints known as All Saints Day. The day became known as All-hallowmas (from the Middle English Alholowmesse which means All Saints Day). The day before (Oct. 31) therefore was known as All-hallows Eve which then evolved into Halloween.

Why do we Trick-or-Treat?

It is thought the tradition of trick-or-treating comes from the tradition of parades in England to celebrate All Souls (or Saints) Day. During the festivities the poor people would go to houses where they were given “soul cakes” in return for their prayers for the families’ deceased. This tradition was known as “going a-souling”. Later the children took up this tradition where they were given ale, food, and money as they visited the houses.

Ancient traditions still observed

It is funny that no matter how much time goes by and the world changes we still hold on to ancient customs and practices. Going back even farther in time the Romans also celebrated the dead and the harvest at this time. Today we observe the end of October with visits to haunted houses, scary and dead-themed movies, visits to farms for apple picking and corn mazes, bonfires, community parties, and children going from house to house  dressed in costumes begging for treats.

We are still observing the acknowledgement of life and death, the fears accompanied with it, and turning to a greater source for guidance and protection. Children still wander the night in costume looking for treats, churches still pray for the dead on All Saints Day, and people still like to gather around a bonfire; however, today the only spirits we are likely to encounter are the ones that come from a bottle—or not. What was that bump I just heard in the night? After all, it is Halloween.



Fun and games, cops and robbers at the Circleville Pumpkin Festival

Tami, Aidan, and Billie Reeves

It was a beautiful, brisk fall day at the Pumpkin Festival last Friday. We ate our way through the festival feasting on fried cheese, brats, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin cream puffs, pumpkin elephant ears, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin peanut brittle, pumpkin coffee, and more. We had enough fair food to clog our veins for the next month.

The festival had the usual queens, parades, carnival rides, craft booths, and other distractions. This was the 105th edition of the Circleville Pumpkin Festival and after 100+ years they have learned to do it right. We were impressed by the EMTs on bicycles and an improvised golf cart-ambulance looking much like something used on a football field. The police patrolled on bicycles and another improvised golf cart/patrol car.

My niece and I wandered through the booths while her husband and four-year old son rode the kiddy rides. As we walked around the booths we were surprised to see so many with knockoff  name-brand purses at ridiculously cheap prices so prominently displayed. We discussed the bust recently at a discount mall in Columbus and decided the same people must have moved out to a country fair hoping to hide in a small town. That bust netted over $8 million in counterfeit goods a few weeks ago.http://www2.nbc4i.com/news/2011/oct/11/raid-finds-8-million-counterfeit-goods-ar-781910/

We found what seemed like a street bazaar off a back alley with an abundance of the knock-off purses, CDs, DVDs, sunglasses, and Nike shoes. As we were strolling down the alley a burley police officer walked by with a handcuffed man in tow. About that time we heard a loud voice and commotion coming from one end. Another voice said to an unsuspecting shopper that the purses were not for sale and wiped the whole display out with one swipe of the arm. It was at that point we realized we were in the middle of a big bust. About 7 or 8 men sat on the ground with their hands handcuffed behind them. We didn’t stick around any longer to find out what was happening. We didn’t want to be in the way in case any bullets started flying.

Later on the news we learned they took in approximately 10,000 bootleg DVDs, 2,000 CDs, 500 purses, and 300 pairs of Nike shoes. The purses and luggage carried names and logos of Louis Vitton, Coach and Dolce & Gabanna. Some booths were selling bootleg copies of feature films not yet released including this year’s remake of “Fright Night.” http://www.myfox28columbus.com/shared/newsroom/top_stories/videos/wtte_vid_14125.shtml

 We decided we had had enough excitement for the day and headed back to meet up with her husband and son to watch the pet parade. The parade included all types of dogs and cats and I also saw at least one lizard or iguana. (Thankfully, no snakes!)The dogs in costumes didn’t look too excited parading down the street and the cats in rolling enclosed carriages and pens were even more unhappy. But, the kids showing them off were ecstatic. Of course, there were pumpkins, real and otherwise, in the parade along with orange-clad marching bands, queens riding giant pumpkins, floats, girl and boy scouts, and military salutes.

We have been properly indoctrinated for fall with everything pumpkin orange and I think I have had enough pumpkin stuff to last me until Thanksgiving. But I won’t turn down a piece of pumpkin pie if you are offering. Pass the whipped cream please.