Sunday, October 31, 2010

HaPpY hAlLoWeEn!

Trick or Treat!

 "It was a small town by a small river and a small lake in a small northern part of a Midwest state. There wasn't so much wilderness around you couldn't see the town. But on the other hand there wasn't so much town you couldn't see and feel and touch and smell the wilderness. The town was full of trees. And dry grass and dead flowers now that autumn was here. And full of fences to walk on and sidewalks to skate on and a large ravine to tumble in and yell across. And the town was full of... 


And it was the afternoon of Halloween. 

And all the houses shut against a cool wind. 

And the town was full of cold sunlight. 

But suddenly, the day was gone. 

Night came out from under each tree and spread...." 

...."Anyone could see that the wind was a special wind this night, and the darkness took on a special feel because it was All Hallows' Eve. Everything seemed cut from soft black velvet or gold or orange velvet. Smoke panted up out of a thousand chimneys like the plumes of funeral parades. From kitchen windows drifted two pumpkin smells: gourds being cut, pies being baked." 

-Ray Bradbury "The Halloween Tree."

I don't care who are, THAT is some good prose right there! Whew, Mr. Bradbury. I adore your novel and have since I was a kid. Thank you for writing it. :)

Did you know that vintage Halloween cards are a hot collectors item? don't say!

So! Happy Halloween, everyone! I trust that you all have special plans on this festive Fall day. No matter how you choose to celebrate (or not) you cannot deny that by this time in the season there is something magical in the air... and I just love it. From the howling breezes to the skittering leaves making their way across sidewalks and streets and walking trails...from the smell and sounds of crackling bonfires to the warm glow of a hollowed-out Halloween pumpkin - oh yes, we are in the heart of autumn. Breathe deep. Enjoy it. Because it surely won't last for long!

Like most things in American culture, Halloween is actually a hodge-podge of all sorts of traditions from many different times and places. (Check out Mr. Bradbury's book for a fun synopsis of the history of Halloween!) Actually, Halloween as WE know it is almost exclusively an American tradition. There are varying opinions as to the origins of "trick or treating" but did you know that it wasn't until the 1940's that kids started going door to door? Prior to that time, Halloween was more like Thanksgiving or Christmas in that friends and family gathered in each other's homes to have parties where they bobbed for apples and played other parlor type games. 

Unfortunately, the 1920's and 30's saw a lot of mischief making on this particular night of the year. Gangs of youth and organizations like the KKK saw this day as an excuse to stir up trouble, and so community members looked for a way to divert attention away from the negative and to find positive activities for young people to participate in. The idea of "trick or treat" was encouraged by schools and communities, and while this idea was thought of as extortion by some, by the end of the 1930's the bad behavior had mostly subsided and by the mid '40's it was replaced with trick or treating as we know it today. 

It's hard to believe that a tradition I grew up with was only established about 40 years before I was born! Turns out this "spooky" activity is as American as apple pie. No matter what your beliefs on it's "true" origins, trick or treating was established in this culture as a family friendly alternative to vandalism and running amuck, and so I say... "Trick or treat! Don't even think about stealing my yard sign, kid." Haha.

I hope that no matter what activities you choose to participate in with your family today that you have a great time doing them. As for us, I see some pumpkin pie and a cute little peacock costume in our future. :) And someone, anyone, remind us to replace the bulb in our porch light this afternoon so we don't look like old scrooges this evening. I can just picture it now. "Hey, honey, have you noticed we haven't gotten a single trick or treater all night...?" Hehe, have a great day, and:

*I read several articles for my information today, including "A Brief History of Halloween in America" 2007, and "Halloween" at  

1 comment:

joyce said...

Can't wait for the festivities to start!!! Thanks for the history lesson...:) see you tonight TRICK OR TREAT:)


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