Hands OFF Halloween!!



I received an email from a very nice pastor last week.

I wish he would have shut his mouth.

It was a rant against Halloween, chiding and shaking his finger against the sticky candy that rotted teeth and the monstrous variations of adults in costumes.  It was quite funny actually, though this nice man didn’t mean to be funny.

And that brings me to my own rant.

Halloween was (and still is in my mind) a time of Great Expectation. Perhaps it was the rare smorgasborg of candy  we got ( certainly  a key element of the holiday for us kids), but it also had something else  there  we weren’t exactly aware of.

I think most of us young kids fell under the spell of the changing of the season.  There was that juncture , that hinge, that turn in the weather that decidedly ended the balm of Summer and brought on the difference of Autumn.  We could see the harvest brought in, and even if our parents weren’t farmers, the stores were stocked with evidence in apples, nuts, fruits of the Fall.  Roadside stands sprung up with Fall produce and there  was the hurry by our mothers perhaps to make sure that there were jams and jellies and produce stocked in the root cellar.

Winter was acomin’ in.

I came from a time when people had fridges, but root cellars were where you placed the root crops: pumpkins, onions, turnips, potatoes, garlic.  The apples of the fall were carefully wrapped in newspaper, the gourds hung to dry for seeds, and crops that grew underground and some with tough skins above, were part of this cellar harvest.

It was also the change in the skies.  The blue of summer was diffused with tendrils of clouds which defined the cold of the upper atmospheres.  The chill wind did blow and we watched the migration of the birds in awe.  The honking of the geese and the migration of the turkey buzzards some days cast black streamers against the sky for hours.

We knew a little about Death.  Our pets and farm animals had died or been slaughtered, but that was a natural part of life and childhood.  This seasonal death was something  different, mysterious, intangible.

We didn’t know about Samhain, but we did know about the harvest.  We had our yearly Harvest Home, and this year my former community celebrated it’s 127th year.

Samhain was the Celtic part of the year, when the harvest was celebrated.  It was also believed there was a thinness, a rip in the envelop of what surrounded us, when the spirits came through and either were welcomed or bedeviled.  In Ireland and Scotland, young men would dress in white rags and smear coal dust on their faces and go out at Halloween to scare off the evil or bad spirits.  A candle was placed in a west window to welcome the spirits of ancestors to the house.

Turnips and rutabagas were carved into faces.  This was probably a throwback to the Celtic warrior traditions of headhunting: heads were taken from enemies and set on pikes as trophies and warnings. Pumpkins were more of an early American fruit and easier to carve.

Halloween has many parts to it depending on culture and customs.  The Romans who occupied the Celtic lands for four hundred years brought their own customs.  Feralia was the Roman holiday celebrating the passing of the dead.  Pomona was the Roman goddess of fruit and trees.  Her symbol is the apple.  Probably bobbing for apples comes from this.

I remember my own Halloweens as a child.  We lived in a rather spooky pre-Revolutionary War region, and ghosts were part of the local ‘color’.  I knew of a couple of Revolutionary war soldiers, mostly British, who had been hung from the rafters of a couple of local barns.  Knew the legends of the specters in white, floating around these old houses with candles. Had one ghostly experience when I was 12 years old.  Knew some of the legends of vengeful Leni-Lanape Indians and some hapless Dutch settlers.

So Halloween and it’s haunts and spooks were something we children looked to for the wonder and mystery of life.  Plus, there were no street lights out in the countryside, and we made our way from house to house (and these houses weren’t close) with flashlights, scaring each other as we went.  The adults were in on the fun, meeting us at the door with plastic fangs and switching on and off the porch lights fast and the candy!  You have to remember that kids back in the 50’s and 60’s didn’t have access to candy like they do now.  We had one local store, Tornquists, and the candy was behind a glassed counter, in large glass jugs: they were like jewels to us:  the juju fruits, the very large pretzel rods (2 cents a pop), the wax candy full of colored sugar water, the ribbon candy, the sour balls…none of this was packaged.  You bought it by the scoop or piecemeal.  One summer I found a 50 cent piece while walking the sandy canal causeway road from River Road to Tornquists.  Nancy Madsen and I got sick from  all the candy one 50 cent piece brought that day.

So when the Sabatello’s opened their front door and we trouped in with our paper shopping bags, the array of candy before our eyes!!  They had folding tables set up full of the stuff.  And because we were the few of children passing in the darkness to their house, which was set back and out of the way….we got the lion’s share of the loot.   We were on a sugar high for days.

Adults with their religions and their fears have attempted to ruin the wonder of Halloween for kids.  We were just out for the candy and the dress up in our weird costumes, which didn’t change much from Princess to Gypsy to Beatnik.  (this was the 50’s and 60’s anyhow).  My brothers went as hobos or pirates mostly.

I want to see the children dressed again, robed in their imaginations.  The kids who come, and last year we had Zero for the first time since we have been here….well, they don’t wear a costume anymore.

We bought an electric candle pumpkin to put in the front center window.  Looks good, but I just sent my son to the grocery store to buy a REAL pumpkin. (He came back with two and is starting to carve.)

And we will dress up in costume, at least something in expectation of the littler goblins who will snatch through the wrought-iron gate the candies and apples we offer from a large basket.

I wish these preachers and pastors would shut up.  They are destroying one of the best of childhood memories.

And they are destroying a wonderful season of mystery.


For a hysterical take on Halloween, read this!


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13 Responses to “Hands OFF Halloween!!”

  1. sandysays1 Says:

    He needs to lighten up some. Send him my post – Why humans invented Halloween – at http://www.sandysays1.wordpress.com for a few laughs.


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Hello Sandy!!!

    I will…and I THANK you for it! And welcome and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

    Lady Nyo…I read your site and I wet my pants….kimono……VERY Funny!!!
    Everyone should go read Sandy’s doggie wisdom on Halloween. Inventive and hysterical!!


  3. shia1 Says:

    Why do people want to ruin things for someone else? I don’t get it. I have so many fond memories of Halloween. My mom made a lot of our costumes, 5 kids and she was so creative. Now I do remember a costume I couldn’t sit down in though. lol

    I don’t get any trick or treaters. I wish I did, it keeps the spirit up. I miss seeing little ones with excitement in their eyes on what they were going to get. Their costumes so cute. I always gave away good candy bars. What the heck it was once a year.

    I enjoyed this article and it brought back some memories. Thanks



  4. ladynyo Says:

    You are welcome. It brought back memories for me, too. Some that I didn’t write here, but I will….

    it’s cool and drizzly here today and I bet we don’t have many trick or treaters. I miss the little kids, too.



  5. Berowne Says:

    >I wish these preachers and pastors would shut up

    Well they won’t, as long as they think anyone is listening; but that doesn’t mean we have to pay any attention. I recall a few of them carried on about (of all things) the Harry Potter books because they were “pro-witch”. Didn’t seem to hurt sales any that I saw. Happy Samhain! (Or All Saints’ Eve, for those who prefer.)


  6. ladynyo Says:

    Yep! I agree…To the gallows with the Baptists!!!

    Ok…perhaps too…something…

    But YES…Happy Samhain!! The rip in the fabric is widening tonight…

    Awooooo….Werewolf of London!!!


  7. katiewritesagain Says:

    LOL! I read Sandy’s post and loved it.
    Jane, I’m with yo9u. For Pete’s sake, knock it off about Halloween! Every year, some religious KNOW IT ALL starts this crap about Satanism and devil worship and, by the way, candy rots their teeth.
    I just ignore them, because that’s the only way to fight them. We can’t TEACH them anything because they know it all. They don’t listen, because they know it all. So, I ignore them and do what I want. I wish we had trick or treaters, too, but the years of razor blades in candy, pedophiles cruising darkened neighborhood streets and an unlimited number of other reasons for keeping children under lock and key have convinced parents to have nice little Halloween parties and community gatherings. I understand, I truly do, but I still feel sadness for the passing of a wonderful childhood tradition.


  8. ladynyo Says:

    I’m with you a 100%.

    And last night we had 3 kids…and these grabbed the candy and took fully half of it.

    It was the quiet middle brother who grabbed it all. My poor son stood there with the basket, not knowing what to do.

    Well, they fell to verbally fighting over the candy…..three brothers obviously from their talk.

    LOL!….such was our Halloween…and I’m eating the candy left.


  9. Margie Says:

    I’m so sorry you didn’t have the pleasure of lots of kids trick or treating. We have a time limit in our town, from about 6:30 to 8:30 and I thought we wouldn’t get anyone, since no one rang our bell until 7:15. But then we had a steady stream of kids, mostly costumed, and all of them polite. I was so happy, because I’d been reading about others not so great halloween nights. Maybe next year will be more enjoyable!


  10. ladynyo Says:

    LOL! I hope so. Three years ago we had a great time….lots of kids, and my son dressed as that character from “Pirates of the Caribbean”…..he looked great and people loved his costume.

    That was really the last ‘good’ year for Trick or Treating….and my friends in this neighborhood said that they didn’t see many kids either…

    It was a steady drizzle and it was rather cold so I think people stayed in.

    Crime has also taken a bite out of the nighttime fun in Atlanta, so we should expect this.

    But there is always NEXT year!

    I’m glad, Margie you got some kids…I love to see their little faces and their costumes.


  11. ladynyo Says:

    Great post, Sandy…thanks for reading and sending us yours!

    Hysterical site!!!

    Lady Nyo


  12. Berowne Says:

    It was remarkably quiet on our street this year. We’re less than a block from an elementary school, so there are families with young children; but by a coincidence they are all either too young (infants) or too old (teenagers) right now, and most houses went dark last night so the pickings were lean.


  13. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Berowne!

    Oh, that’s sad…..but that seems to be pretty common. Here, there are babies and infants too young to go out….and there a teens who are rather troubled.

    Gangs have taken a lot of our attention lately, and the police say these kids are attracted by the gang leadership.

    Well, not all, because there are many young men here who have avoided the gang trap and are fine and decent citizens. My son is especially lucky in his choice of friends from his college (a couple of blocks down the street) and I think it’s more of an issue of fathers being present in their son’s lives.

    But the pendulum will swing back and Halloween will again be a fun time for us all.


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