My favorite holiday, after Christmas. If the amount of decorations in stores and catalogs is an indication, it’s many others’ favorite as well. In an earlier blog, I’d mentioned I was finishing off a Halloween story inspired by a catalog description. A few days ago, I received word that Shadowfire Press wanted it! So the contracts for the story, called Reflections, are going out today. Yippee! Because it’s a Halloween story, though, it won’t go online until Oct. 2, 2009. But I have little control over a muse who strikes me late with the inspiration wand, and I’m happy with the story, so I’m not complaining.
I’m always fascinated with the origin of holidays. According to NPR’s Writer’s Almanac, Halloween began about 2,000 years ago with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. For the Celts, the new year began on November 1st, and October 31st was their new year’s eve. On that night, “the division between the world of the living and the world of the dead dissolved, and the dead could come to earth again.” Oh, yeah – I used that.
“The druids built huge bonfires, and regular people put out their own fires in their homes and crowded together around these fires, where they burned sacrifices for the gods, told each other's fortunes, and dressed in costumes — usually animal skins and heads.” Rather crude costumes, but for the times, apropos.
Recognizing its growing popularity, the pope in the ninth century decided he wanted part of the action, “so he just moved the holiday called All Saints' Day from May 13 to November 1. All Saints' Day was a time for Christians to honor all the saints and martyrs of their religion. The term for All Saints' Day in Middle English was Alholowmesse, or All-hallowmass. This became All-hallows, and so the night before was referred to as All-hallows Eve, and finally, Halloween.”
So when you light your pumpkins tonight, be on the lookout for an all-too-realistic ghost costume. Bwahahaha!