Halloween and the stigma that never flees

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 27, 2007

I have never understood people’s angst toward Halloween.

If I were to ever imagine each of the holidays as a Disney character, Christmas would be Cinderella, popular with her blonde hair, fancy ball gown and those glass shoes; Easter would be Sleeping Beauty with her spring like pink dress; and as for Halloween…Quasimodo, with his hunchback, hidden in a bell tower and all.

Of course, that hunchback on Halloween’s back is more of a stigma made up of individuals’ distain and fear for the holiday instead of a physical deformity dealt with by a little French outcast.

A few people I know of look at Halloween as an evil day associated with Satan. Yes, it’s a night when demons roam the Earth possessing people to dress up in costumes, hit up their neighbors for candy, then TP their neighbor’s yard, throw eggs at passing cars and dabble in the occult.

Do I need to start with the corporate corruption associated with the holiday? Oh, cynicism! I can’t take it anymore.

I’m sure this is exactly what the ancient Celts wanted for old Quasimodo Halloween…for the holiday to be evilly, delicious.

Though Halloween has its roots steeped in the afterlife, all was not witches and goblins in the beginning, instead it was more about the end of a harvest.

It was called the Festival of Samhain back then and it seems the celebration was more work and less play as the Pagans of Ireland prepared for winter by stocking up on food. It was a time for bonfires and the belief on that day the veil between the dead and the living thinned.

There was an extra place set at the table for dead ancestors and stories were told educating the young about their culture.

Although the Celts believed the dead could return to life that night, causing damage to their crops or sickness, this was easily escaped with masks and costumes.

Of course, then the Romans invaded, adding (or forcing) their own beliefs into the pot, including the goddess of fruit, Pomona, who was the inspiration for bobbing for apples.

Apples were also used to tell youth about their future, like whom they would marry and how many children they would have.

Then with Christianity, All Saints Day was moved from the spring to November 1 and suddenly Samhain became All Hollow’s Eve, which got blurred over time into Halloween.

Ancestors of the ancient Celts still observe this holiday within their pagan religion and part of their culture is still evident within our own.

Children still twist an apple stem and recite the alphabet to see who they’ll marry and the best costume is still desired for that night which only comes once a year.

So, off with the Quasimodo hump and down with the Halloween Haters’ Club. It’s time to bring Quasi down from the tower and let him plant one on Esmeralda.

Let Halloween be the fun, original, creative holiday it was meant to be.

It’s a night to let your imagination run wild and a connection to the ancient ancestors that are all too often forgotten about.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: amanda.vanderbroek@r-cnews.com or call (252) 332-7209.