A trip through the shopping malls this past week showed me why… I saw everything from strings of lights shaped like pumpkins or skeletons, to large yard decorations, to t-shirts, and even children’s warm gloves. And that’s in addition to the racks and racks of candy, the costumes, the face and hair paint, and all the paper goods for serving up refreshments and decorating the house with cardboard cut-outs and streamers.
We also saw some pretty wholesale Christmas costumes items – such as serving platters, ceramic cookie jars, and hammered metal pumpkins.
When I was a child, this holiday was all about kids and candy. Now adults want to get in on the fun, so the adult costume industry is cashing in. The week-end nights closest to Halloween see costume parties in homes and costume contests in night clubs and bars across the country.
It began as a pagan holiday called Samhain . October 31 is the midpoint between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice – a time for crossing from summer to winter and beginning the “Wheel of the Year” anew.
This is when the people celebrated the bounty of the harvest and asked for strength to get through the coming winter. It was a time to let go of the old and welcome the new.
In the earth-based religions, it is also a time to acknowledge death as a part of life, and to honor the dead. At this time the veil between this world and the next was believed to be very thin – making this the time when it might be possible to communicate with those in the spirit world. The ancient Celts believed that this then was the time to invite the family’s ancestors home, and many of those who practice the earth based religions still set out favorite foods and cherished items to welcome those ancestors to their gatherings.