October 31, 2011

All Hallow's Eve

written by Rosa Morgan

For at least one night of the year, I shall lay aside my logic and embrace all the hobgoblin superstition and magic of All Hallow's Eve. Let's start with the tradition of carving jack-o'-lanterns, which originated from the Irish tradition of carving will-of-the-wisps. These tiny turnips with their fearsome faces embodied wandering souls lost in purgatory.

In North America, the native pumpkin replaced the turnips. I love the process of picking out the perfect squash, its bottom flat and its sides unblemished, and whether they wear a spooky snaggle toothed grimace or an impish grin, their glowing embers in the dead of night are sure to imbue a haunting spirit.

Games are an important ingredient for an evening's fun, and nothing brings as much lighthearted laughter, as trying, without aid of hands, to catch an apple on a string, or bob for one in a tub of water. Let us hope this elegantly dressed woman does not spoil her frock, or, if she does, her companion will be at the ready with a nicely starched handkerchief.

Dressing up in a costume to go trick-or-treating, or guising, is a custom evolving from medieval souling, when poor folk went door to door on Hallowmas (November 1), to receive food in return for prayers for the dead on All Soul's Day (November 2). One can choose playful costumes, such as these darling little ones in their pointed hats,

or fearful disguises, like these strange masked people.
Pray, hope the temperatures are cool enough, so they do not overheat, nor hover too close to an open hearth.

I always feel cheated if I'm not a little frightened on this night. Reading a passage from Dracula, making a nighttime trip to a graveyard, or telling a ghost story, always elicits a spine tingling shiver.

So, on this day embrace the kid in you; eat some candy apples and caramel corn, and hide behind the curtain and jump out with a BOO!, for All Hallow's Eve is a tradition we'd be the poorer to lose.

Enjoy: H-A-double L-O-W-double E-N spells Halloween

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