Halloween is here.
The decorations are going up and the election year is scaring everyone, what a fun season.
Have you figured out how you’re going to celebrate on the big day?
Maybe you’re over 55 and aren’t sure if a traditional Halloween is appropriate this year.
I think a lot of people are wondering the same thing. This year is a little different than most Halloweens we’ve had recently.
Do you participate in the trick or treating, trunk-or-treating, or do you set a bowl of candy on your porch for the roaming teenagers to plunder?
Where does Halloween come from?
To understand what to do on Halloween, I’d like to take the approach of remembering why we celebrate it in the first place.
Halloween seems like one of those odd holidays that should never have become an official holiday. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good Halloween as much as the next person, but why do we even celebrate it?
As it turns out, Halloween is a very old tradition dating back about 2000 years ago. Remember when harvest festivals were a big thing? Probably not. Some of your parents might have though, or at least, had some version of it for when they finished harvesting for the year. I remember talking with my grandparents about the times when their family would all get together and harvest their fields. They’d then have a big party with the biggest meals of the year. My grandpa was a young boy at the time, and even when I interviewed him in his 90’s, he still fondly remembered getting a full pie to himself.
The old-time harvest festivals were somewhat related to Halloween, though Thanksgiving was probably more so. Back in the day, Halloween still had an other-worldly appeal. The old Celts used to believe that the dead would come back to Earth, or at lest visit near to it. Sacrifices of animals and crops were a part of this tradition, where they would invoke favor from the dead, or attempt to predict the future.
Superstitions were high, and in some cultures, this became a time to hope for one’s future mate. Games were played to predict one’s future spouse, anything from tossing labeled nuts into a fire, throwing peelings on the ground and hoping they formed initials of your future lover, and other superstitious and occult traditions.
Halloween has always been a little creepy, though surprisingly, it had less to do with the past than it did with the future. Now days, it has more to do with candy, kids, and cuteness, mingled with a few scary movies for the older ones.
Probably the most scary trend that I see, is how people are now dressing up their animals for the festivities. Pet costumes are one of the newest fads sweeping the country. Every year, more people are torturing their animals with cute little costumes.
So the way I see it, Halloween was born from ancient European traditions, most of which immigrated to America along with their practitioners. But it is a constantly evolving holiday, and who knows where it’ll end up after this Covid mess has run its course.
Perhaps you have a chance to influence where it goes from here.
Since Halloween is evolving, here is a small list of possible changes you could try.
- Maybe you should steal from some older traditions. You could turn Halloween into another Thanksgiving, getting together as family to share a spooky themed meal eating from all the canned groceries you harvested this year at the supermarket, but would normally never get around to eating, like those cans of asparagus and lima beans that usually get reserved for when the food bank comes knocking on your door for donations. Wouldn’t that be a fun trick on your kids?
- Use the holiday as a matchmaking event for your children’s future spouse.
- Take bets on predicting the future, things like the upcoming winter weather, who gets into a new relationship next, who wins the presidential election, or who contracts covid first.
- Have a family history party and everyone shares and interesting story they learned about their deceased ancestry.
Or you can make up some new, more popular traditions, like:
- Seeing who can come up with the most ridiculous pet costume.
- Experiment with creepy fun obstacle courses or pranks for managing new ways of delivering candy to children without having them knock on your door.
- Having family parties, where you play fun Halloween games, share candy, and keep the festivities to those who are closer to you.
- Trick or treat on social media only. I don’t know how that would look, or how there would be any treats involved, but you can use your own imagination.
Or you can go about your Halloween traditions like you always have.
Whatever you do, be safe, have a great Halloween, and don’t let Covid convince you to cross over to the other side just yet.