It’s that time of year, the 31st October that is; Halloween, also known as Allhalloween, All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve, which is celebrated in a majority of countries.
Halloween originated apparently with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people lit bonfires and dressed up to ward off roaming ghosts. During the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honour all saints and martyrs, hence All Saints Day. In other words, some people would use the tradition to pay their respects to the deceased. The term ‘Halloween’ didn’t originate until the mid-18th century and is of Christian origin. It refers to ‘hallowed evening’ or ‘holy evening’. Those would probably explain why Halloween takes place a day before All Saints Day.
As of today, Halloween remains a popular vacation and I have to say; I’m most certainly one of them guys who celebrates Halloween. I’d probably be over-estimating if I was to say it’s as popular as, say, Christmas. Mind you, it does take place a couple of months before Christmas which could be why people start over-thinking about Christmas days before Halloween comes and personally, that irritates me, because for one thing, Christmas ain’t come yet, duh(!) and for another thing, people like myself are trying to think about Halloween. I also say the same thing about Guy Fawkes Night.
Anyway, enough of my moaning. Halloween is celebrated in a variety of ways. As a kid, I mostly celebrated it by what we call trick-or-treating. Basically, I would dress in a costume, go round the streets with a group of friends and knock on doors, then call “trick or treat”. The resident(s) would then give us some candy. Some trick-or-treaters would egg houses, but myself and the others never thought of that. Of course, trick-or-treating is more of a kids’ activity. Other activities include parties, carving pumpkins and lighting them, apple bobbing, telling haunting stories and watching horror films. These could be celebrated by any age really. And yes, also plain dressing up. Most Halloweens, I remember dressing up as a vampire. This year, I dressed as David Bowie as his character in the music videos to Blackstar and Lazarus. I was going to dress up as the Penguin (one of Batman’s enemies), but I was still struggling to get over losing one of my true heroes. Ziggy Stardust or Jareth from Labyrinth were also options, but I thought I’d keep it more simple. Some of my family don’t seem to celebrate the vacation as much as I do and they used to. I remember when my dad once dressed up as Herman Munster from the Munsters. But then, I’m living in Britain and Halloween has been known to be an American vacation. Some Brits have pointed that out and don’t understand the point of celebrating it as a result. But I see no reason why I have to avoid it, just because it happens to be mainly associated with America. Of course not everybody celebrates Halloween. I have no problem with that.
Speaking of horror films and the media, we get plenty of those films suitable for celebrating Halloween, such as John Carpenter’s Halloween. Recently I was watching Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, an animated feature update of his famous short from 1984 and gee it was awesome! Other horror films I watched this month include Daddy’s Deadly Darling (aka Pigs), two of Roger Corman’s films (The Raven and The Little Shop Of Horrors) and Saw. It’s also amazing how very few TV shows contain Halloween specials. These include The Simpsons (with most of its episodes labelled Treehouse Of Horror and boy such classics they are!) and Psychoville (which had one Halloween special). And yet, there are fewer Halloween specials than there are Christmas specials (sorry to bring that up again). But it doesn’t mean that some TV episodes can’t be set during Halloween, just because they’re not called specials. There’s that Malcolm In The Middle episode, Halloween Approximately, where the boys have their older brother arrive a week late for the vacation, but still celebrate it. There’s South Park (Korn’s Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery), My Family (Friday the 31st) and that pilot episode of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters. Then you have TV shows which relate to the horror genre as a whole. Many episodes of shows such as The X-Files, The Munsters and The Addams Family could be viewed in celebration to Halloween.
On the subject of ghosts, personally I don’t believe in ghosts. I once had a conversation with one of my work colleagues about the time during 1998 when a ‘ghost’ happened to be spotted in Belgrave Hall in Leicester, where I reside. I’m kinda like Dana Scully from The X-Files in a way and believe there must be some logical explanation; I mean it could be a white cloth of some sort or a bed sheet. That would certainly make a great X-Files episode.
Happy Halloween everybody!