Wednesday, 31 October 2012

All Hallows Eve

't'was the night before All Saints, when all through the house
All ghosties and ghoulies tried to frighten the mouse.
With masks and capes, dripping fangs and hard glare,
The children set out to menace, with flair.



Most childless adults stayed firmly indoors,
And ignored the repeated yelling and roars,
From the children that came clutching their bags
Demanding a treat or "We'll do your car, slags!"

And out on the lawns there arose such a clatter,
Curtains did twitch to see what's the matter.
Poor Mr Smith was trying in vain
To protect his front door from rotten egg rain.

The unfortunate Smith had made such a error
As to open the door to a Frankenstein terror,
Who when refused a treat took offence in great store,
And started to pummel Smith's hardwood front door.

Now ghostie! now ghoulie! now vampirical child!
Now Dracula fiend! Now spirit gone wild!
Take yourselves home and never again hassle,
The people who stay at home in their castle.

The people who don't want to join in this farce,
Should be allowed to rest, no fear of a mask,
Pleading for sweets with blacked out grin,
Never to hear the words 'Trick or Treat?' e'er again!

                                                                               With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore

Hallowe'en has become in recent years a time for children to dress up as pagan, occultish or horror figures and wander from house to house saying Trick or Treat, and expecting to receive sweets, fruit or other gifts in return. It is not something I hold store with. Quite frankly I see this as nothing short of begging, and I do not hold with begging in any way, shape or form.

Straight away I sound like a miserable old bag, childless who does not like to see kids having fun. Wrong! I like children to have fun but I do not expect it to involve me and unsolicited demands for treats. I lay the blame for this firmly at the door of the Americans and only wish it could quietly make its way back across the  Atlantic and stay there (or even better for the whole shebang to disappear mid-flight never to appear on any shore ever again). There are plenty of things that children could be doing at this time of year (it is the end of the harvest season in the northern hemisphere) that are fun, far more wholesome in their outlook and do not involve shelling out money, either for the unfortunate person who opens the door or the parents who have to create/buy the outfit.

What one needs to remember is the significance of the name. Hallowe'en is a contraction of All Hallows Evening, the night before All Saints' Day on the 1st November. Some Christian churches frown on the non-religious practices on Hallowe'en of dressing up in costumes such as vampires and witches, seeing it as a step towards leading a pagan or occult lifestyle. I think they may be over-reacting somewhat particularly as the time of year is very closely linked to many pagan festivals (as many Christian festivals are, it made conversion easier). One can see the link between the Christian festival and old pagan rituals such as Samhain which combined the end of harvest-time with a time when the door to the 'other world' was opened and the souls of the dead came back to revisit their homes. All Saints' Day is an important festival in the Catholic Church's calendar. In many Catholic countries the 1st November is a national holiday and it is a day when families visit the graves of relatives, sometimes travelling across the country, and pay respect to the departed. I have found graveyards in Spain and Italy to be a riot of colour by the end of the day with graves cleaned and new flowers laid; it will have also been a time of reflection and remembrance.

Hallowe'en is a time for all to celebrate whether pagan, Christian, atheist or a farmer; it is the manner of celebration that ought to be considered. By all means dress up in costumes, party and have a good time whatever your age, but do have some respect for those who do not wish to participate and preferably abandon this habit of wandering the streets and demanding gifts from strangers - it is not a good habit to get into.

Cleaned and decorated graves on All Saints' Day
(1st November 2011, Sedella, Spain)











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