At long last, the time for brainstorming spooky costumes to carving pumpkins, buying and eating unfathomable amounts of Halloween treats, candy, and chocolate and indulging in everything pumpkin-spice-flavored is here. There's so much to anticipate during this frightfully fun October holiday. While kids (and adults) get a chance to dress up and go trick-or-treating, some of us older folks have an excuse to sip on a "boo-zy" Halloween cocktail.
I never considered Halloween as a charitable holiday, but surprisingly, at one time it was. In 1000 A.D. the church designated November 2 as All Souls’ Day, a time for honoring the dead. All Souls' Day is the last day of Allhallowtide, after All Saints' Day and its eve. The three day celebration was the precurser to what ultimately became Halloween. On All Souls' Day, poor people would visit the homes of wealthier families and receive pastries called soul cakes in exchange for a promise to pray for the souls of the homeowners’ dead relatives. Known as "souling", the practice was later taken up by children, who would go from door to door asking for gifts such as food, money and ale. Perhaps this is the reason I once received a small banana cake loaf as a trick-or-treat treat, sans the ale, unfortunately.
Although we may have lost the original concept of veneration and charity, who would have thunk back then that trick-or-treating would become a tradition loved by kids everywhere.
When I was growing up, Halloween was always one of the best holidays ever. Not only did it mean lots of candy and other goodies, but also signaled the start of the holiday season. My favorite time of the year, then and now.
Back in those days, most of the people in the neighborhood decorated their homes and gave out treats. A few homes were set up as haunted houses for us kids to walk through, and have a fun, scary fright. It is comforting to know that things haven't changed a lot since then.
It was so much fun getting dressed up and going house-to-house trick-or-treating with my neighborhood friends. Through the years, depending on my mom's busyness, my costumes varied from store bought to homemade. All the boys were heroes, hobos, ghosts, or, if you were anything like my brother, hair. The girls princesses or witches. The costumes though were always just a means to an end. It was really all about the candy.
Of all the different assortment of candy and goodies we would receive, chocolate, in all its various forms, was the most prized. Hard candy and gum were valued least. Some items were treasured because of their uniqueness than their taste, like apples and popcorn balls. We always knew which houses gave out the best, and biggest, candy bars, and at the end of the night, we would empty our bags to see and compare our bounty, all the while eating the best of it first. For a kid (and maybe the dentist), what could be any better?
Because last Halloween was so eerily quiet, I am hoping this year will be more fun-filled with the return of neighborhood kids dressing up and going house-to-house trick-or-treating. I am looking forward to making this Halloween the most excellent, spooo-tacular time for the kids and, along the way, me too!
(to be continued)