Hallowe’en rant #2

Continuing with a line of thought I started mulling over many years ago and first began to expound in writing last year (because, you know, once I get an idea in my head, I can’t put it down until I’ve beaten it completely to death):

A (really) brief history of Hallowe’en: Samhain, Celts, harvest, darkness, evil spirits, costumes, candy, Madison avenue, blah blah blah. The details have been written in fine detail elsewhere, so I won’t repeat. The important point here is that for better or for worse the holiday has undergone an evolution, thanks to the twin forces of Christianity and capitalism. It’s easy enough to bemoan this fact and lament the change, but it’s occurred to me that perhaps some element of the original meaning hasn’t been lost. The day was originally an opportunity to look directly at the darker side of culture, the chaotic forces which threatened to destroy a society; now it seems to be an innocent chance to play dress up. But look at what we choose to dress up as. Young women, almost invariably, seem to prefer costumes better suited to street walking than to casting out demons. We give ourselves a chance to dress up as anything this one time each year, and I think it reflects a poorly hidden desire of the collective unconscious that a substantive part of the population choose to parade as hookers. Hallowe’en is still an opportunity for the darker parts of our culture to rear their heads. You just need to know how to see them.

Tangentially, I love this time of year. Slate grey skies, forests a sea of orange, yellow, brown, burnt umber. Wind, rain, flurries. It’s beautiful; but not the gaudy beautiful of early fall or the manic beautiful of spring. Sombre, rarified beauty.


One Response

  1. When I lived in Germany, I held Halloween there for them, and given it was pre-internet days, I had to ask my mom to look it up and send to me so I could teach them… damn, that seems prehistoric.

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