It's the most wonderful time of the year. It's the time when the air turns cooler, the leaves change colors (in places where such things actually happen), and the smile on my face gets bigger. October has always been, and will always be, my favorite month of the year. And why? Because it contains my favorite holiday of all time: Samhain, Sow-een, All Hallow's Eve, Hallow'een. Or, as it's more commonly known, HALLOWEEN. It is the one time of year when the veil between the worlds is the thinnest, and when the dead can return to the land of the living. Well, that's what people say now. I've also heard a few ignorant people say it's the "devil's holiday" and call it "happy dead day..." I've actually been called a Satanist because I decorate my house for Halloween. Not true, I say. My house looks like that year-round. So what exactly is Halloween? Sure, kids dress up and go begging for candy, but what was it originally?
Samhain was, as was most celebrations of the time, an agricultural festival. It was the time of the last harvest, when the world "died" for the winter months. Many Pagans still celebrate it this way. But it became more than that. It became a way to honor those who came before, a way to pay tribute to the dead, and to acknowledge their importance in our lives. Now, granted, when the dead return, that means all sorts of other nasty things can return, which is why offerings of food were left out: So these nasties could be placated into doing no harm (Trick or Treat, get it?). In the meantime, children sought to confuse the long-legged beasties by dressing like them. Hence the Halloween costumes. The whole event became such a celebration in the pre-Christian communities that when the Christians encountered it, they knew it was one holiday they couldn't even hope to get rid of. So they created a new one, All Saint's Day, for the day after All Hallows.
While you're out this Halloween, collecting your candy and driving yourself into a sugar-coma, take a few minutes to reflect on everyone who is no longer with us. Think about how they touched your life, and remember them during this very special day.
And then go scare the hell out of someone. ;-)