I am getting old.
When I was young I imagined that Halloween was for children. It was costumes and candy and imaginary play. Halloween was an escape from reality, or it was a glance into another world.
We use to go block to block in our costumes, we called it Trick or Treating, we carried pillow cases with us, taking candies at nearly every door.
We scoffed at the people who lived in the houses where they handed out little bibles, or toothpaste, or home made goods.
I remember the drill of searching through our candy, looking for suspicious things, open packages. We heard that some people hated children and would slip needles, or razor blades into the candies.
Halloween was not all fun and games, it was not just for children either.
Halloween was a deeper holiday than we thought of as children, it was not just about ghosts and goblins and friendly witches. In the celebration of Halloween there was an ages old conflict, between the Christian Church, and the “Old Time Religion;” the customs of the pagans hiding just beneath the surface.
On the Christian Calendar; Halloween was known as the All Hallows Eve. It was a celebration of the honored dead, of all the saints who had passed before.
For the old pagans; whose traditions walk hand in hand with the church, it was a celebration of the dead. Plain and simple, Halloween was an acknowledgment of all the dead, whose spirits live among us still; good and bad, honored or not, and more often than not it celebrated the dangerous, the macabre, the frightening, and the weird.
I was fourteen the last year I went Trick or Treating, and really; I was only chaperoning my younger brother. I took some candy nevertheless.
In that same year I remember the Pastor at my church lamenting the popularity of the pagan festival. Believing that the Christian feast should be honored instead. There was no fun in that.
In the that have followed, the number of children who go out in costumes seeking candy has declined by 25%. It is no longer considered safe or wholesome.
At forty-seven I watch my pears obsess over this day still. A few of them earn an income through it, I understand that. Other have children, and for them it is a carrying forward of a tradition. Most look to Halloween or the weekend preceding it, as a cause to be drunken, to crawl through bars in costumes, to cling to their childhood and the freedom of they had as children, which they remember, or imagine.
For me it is just another day, Halloween, I do not believe that the dead walk with us. I have never seen a ghost, or found evidence of magic.
Given 1st – 2016.10.31