Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween, still great!

Halloween is my favorite holiday, bar none. Maybe that's blasphemy, but consider: Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving were OK as a kid, but all involved exhaustive prep as an adult, which on occasion detracted disastrously from any celebration. Not so Halloween. Put on a mask, hand out candy. Halloween has changed since my childhood, but it still has a magical quality; and for me at least, harkens back to a time when as an 8-12 year old I could trick or treat several neighborhoods past darkness without danger. At least it felt safer than it does today.
Halloween gets a bad rep from revisionists who equate it with Satan-love.
There are 10 Federal holidays, and about half are under a cloud of constant attack or efforts to change or discredit them (see rundown below). Much-maligned Halloween is not a Federal holiday, but enjoys the status of international holiday based in the Celtic harvest celebration, or the age-old human weakness of trying to thank somebody for a good crop. Over the years its pagan origins seem to have absorbed a whole host of evils not part of the original intent. Today, there is nothing to link it to human sacrifice or devil worship except in the minds of those who link earth and harvest-based religions to Satan, and that's a real shame.
Rather than celebrate goodness and hope (Christmas, Easter, et al), Halloween is the only holiday that invites us mortals to laugh at the dark. Here is your chance to dismiss our fear of what's under our beds or in the closet. We all know there's real scary stuff out there. If you want to rail at something, consider the nightly news, which insists on bringing a home invasion story from East Orange, New Jersey, into our homes in Portland, Oregon. Media turns fear and horror anywhere, into fear and horror everywhere.
As a kid, my absolute worst nightmares were not about monsters. Long before I ever saw a horror movie, I was scared to death of bears, even in my bed in suburban Chevy Chase, Maryland. Even after I saw horror movies, the only monster I can remember dreaming about was a gorilla. How does this happen? Fear comes from many sources, we don't necessarily create them from myths.
My personal opinion is that we make fun of witches (which I don't believe in) and therefore deny them, rather than celebrating them, when we dress up and fool around at parties and on the neighborhood streets on October 31st.
Hey, there is something alluring about being scared, then being relieved by the obvious facade; who can say why?
Tonight, as kids and adults all over America don Scream masks, paint their faces, become Poltergeists, Princesses or Pirates and so on, they will know that we don't deny the scary, we face it head-on.
Be safe this Halloween, watch the kids and check the candy; but do not fear. Marvel instead at creativity and joy in dressing up, in meeting your neighbors by visiting their doorstep with a hearty "Trick or Treat!" And laughing at the dark.
Happy Halloween!

Hassles of the Holidays--I am the last person to complain about a paid holiday, but let's take a quick look:
-Washington's Birthday? Or is it referred to as President's Day so it can include Lincoln without adding another Federal Holiday? About 12 states call it the latter.
-Dr Martin Luther King Jr Birthday--need I say more? Did you know John McCain originally voted against this being a holiday but later recanted?
- Christmas: immaculate conception, now there's an easy concept for the earth's 6.5 billion citizens to wrap their heads around. Always gets the non-christian religions and atheists fired up--like that guy who lynches Santa Clause in his front yard every year. Why does a message of Peace on Earth, even from a certain religion, have to draw fire?
- Easter--returning from the dead, rebirth, very positive stuff; but to get to that point, you have to relive the betrayal, trial, torture, loneliness, and bottomless sorrow at the injustice of it all. Whether you believe in the resurrection or not, the prequel definitely happened in all it's gruesomeness.
- Thanksgiving: The natives saved the Pilgrims asses that year, then look what we did for the natives...
- Fourth of July: seemingly perfect, but try to get decent fireworks in most states without breaking laws. Sparklers don't cut it...
- Columbus Day: See Thanksgiving, and bear in mind Columbus landed in the Carribean and wasn't that nice a guy anyway.

Bottom line: Yay for 3-day weekends!!!


belleshpgrl said...

It never occured to me that Easter was just as much a celebration of betrayal and death as it is about life. The whole week before Easter is damned depressing. At least you get Reese's shaped like eggs. That means more "peanut butter." Ohh yeah.

mvorpal said...

Not so much celebration as recognition. When people talk about Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ, they don't talk about the blessed relief when the stone is rolled back--they talk about the ground beef that was Jesus' back after the cat o' nine tails lashing. We are lucky to have the Reese's eggs to bring us back to sanity, although I personnally think the Cadbury Eggs are a little piece of heaven...