For me, however, Hallowe'en has always been about fun. Who can help but love a holiday where you can be anything your heart desires, even if it's only for one night? Sure, some folks will say it's wrong for kids to want to be a witch or a vampire or anything under the sun for various reasons, really. And to them I say, 'pfft!'. I'll level with you all here; when I was a kid, I never dressed up as a witch. Not once. But, I still turned out to be one. A Hallowe'en costume is not a fated path, folks.
But I digress. This holiday is about letting loose, having fun and maybe getting some free candy while you're at it. It's about crawling through corn mazes, bobbing for apples, picking pumpkins and maybe giving yourself a scare or two, in the form of movies or haunted houses, just for fun! And it's all those things that make me nostalgic for the Hallowe'en I remember growing up with.
Every year, every house in my neighborhood would decorate their yard and home in preparation of the upcoming parade of ghoulish candy seeking goblins. Some folks were more elaborate, building entire graveyard sets or haunted paths, while others settled for a few leaf bags in the shape of pumpkins or paper ghosts in the trees. The point is, not a single house went without a pumpkin, at the very least. It was magical to walk through the neighborhood to see what lie in store for us at the end of the month, while we pondered what we were going to be this year.
Found on Wikimedia Commons
When the night finally came all the neighborhood kids would get together. Those who were too young to wander unsupervised would all pile in the back of someone's huge SUV or truck to be taken around by some of the parents while the older kids raced from house to house, using a strategic plan that would net them the best candy. Because as we all know, the houses that give out full size bars are always best! Only once or twice did we come across a house without the front light on, or a bowl that was devoid of candy sitting on the porch. Folks would compliment us on how scary, creative or pretty our costumes were as they handed out our sugar laden treasure and we'd frequently take breaks on the curb sides to nibble away bits of our well earned loot.
At the end of the night we'd all trundle back to our parents, at whichever house they had gathered at, swap our favorite candies, give mom and dad a piece or two before drifting off to bed with visions of goblins floating in our heads.
Now it seems that magic is starting to die off, which seems strange to me considering how open minded we've become since my childhood and the fact that in a lot of places, child related crimes have *decreased* not increased. Kids go to parking lots or malls to 'trick or treat', parents vigilantly check candy packages for pins, needles and all manner of horrific things and toss away any home made treats the kids may have gotten along the way. Many a house is devoid of pumpkins, paper ghosts and candy, many choosing to leave their lights off on Hallowe'en night. Of the houses that do put their lights on, there is always at least one or two who hand out Chick Tracts or other pamphlets letting children know that celebrating this holiday will land them a one way ticket to Hell. I often wish people would tell me where these folks lived, so I could have a little heart to heart with their crazy asses; I can think of no greater evil that exists on Hallowe'en night than the attempt to terrify children into your way of thinking.
When I walk the neighborhood, with the leaves crunching underfoot thinking about my Hallowe'ens past I get angry and then I get sad. I get angry that despite great leaps and bounds for us in some areas, we are back peddling about a secular holiday. Yes, as a witch I celebrate Hallowe'en and Samhain as two separate entities - one for the love of fun and the other for the love of my Gods and honored dead. I worry that soon the magic of this holiday will only remain in the hearts of we grown children and will be lost entirely on current and future children. And I can think of nothing more heart-rending than the loss of this long celebrated, wonderful night.
Hat tip to Lyn at Witch Blog and her recent guest poster, Grandfather Oak for stirring the Hallowe'en memory Cauldron for me and inspiring this post.