There’s a lot going on in D.C. right now with the first indictments coming down and a heretofore unknown campaign advisor pleading guilty in what seems to be a plea deal that could possibly reveal a great deal about the “fake news” Russia/Trump story. But rather than discussing what is clearly going to be “Breaking News” for the next day or so, let’s use this “holiday” to take a look at several stories that have been lost or forgotten as well as the history of Halloween, Hershey’s favorite holiday!
Whatever Happened To . . . ?
Because of the voracious appetite of the 24/7 NEWS cycle, the networks, radio stations, and print media outlets are always looking for the latest breaking story. In the process, earlier “breaking news” stories fade into the background rather quickly and, with that, the consuming public tends to forget about those earlier “breaking news” stories. For example, how many stories have we heard about Santa Rosa, California, and the aftermath of those ferocious wildfires they suffered from? We have a heard about the Whitefish Energy story (as predicted in the October 25th Blast) but little else about what’s going on in Puerto Rico, much less the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Apparently Houston and other Texas towns and cities, as well as Florida, have all recovered from Hurricanes Harvey and Maria. Out of sight, out of mind. And, because of the Mueller indictments, the Republicans are “crafting” their tax “reform” (read: cuts) bill behind closed doors. That will probably become the story starting Wednesday evening into Thursday and we’ll see just how much the GOP has sold out Trump’s base, increased our deficit and debt, and stuck the middle class with the bill to pay for the huge cuts the donor class will receive. We are all susceptible to the 24/7 “Breaking News” carousel’s magnetic pull --- leading to weekly amnesia to other recent events.
I’m guessing Trump masks are probably a big seller this Halloween and I’m sure we’ll see lots of Marvel Superheroes and DC Comics characters parading around today and tonight --- as well as the usual Disney folks, too. But how did all this start, this “Trick or Treat” that kids across the country so look forward to?
While many of us are aware the word “Halloween” derives from the phrase “All Hallows Evening” and is connected to the Christian celebration of All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day we probably don’t know that this day can trace its roots (as so many Christian holidays can) to a pagan celebration in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. According to Wikipedia:
(Halloween) originated from ancient Celtic harvest festivals, particularly the Gaelic festival Samhain (which was) a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the "darker half" of the year. Traditionally, it is celebrated from 31 October to 1 November, as the Celtic day began and ended at sunset. This is about halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice.
Just as Christmas occurs close to the Winter Solstice and Easter is around the Spring equinox (and represents the “rebirth” of the Earth’s soil), Halloween marked that point in the year when the harvest came in and, quite naturally, was celebrated by pagans. As regards other Halloween “traditions” (like wearing costumes & “trick or treating”) there are some other interesting roots.
As far as costumes go, we know “It is claimed that in the Middle Ages, churches that were too poor to display the relics of martyred saints at Allhallowtide let parishioners dress up as saints instead.” (Wikipedia) A Christian minister, Prince Sorie Conteh, has recorded another “origin story” for wearing costumes he writes:
"It was traditionally believed that the souls of the departed wandered the earth until All Saints' Day, and All Hallows' Eve provided one last chance for the dead to gain vengeance on their enemies before moving to the next world. In order to avoid being recognized by any soul that might be seeking such vengeance, people would don masks or costumes to disguise their identities" (Wikipedia)
When it comes to “trick or treating”, we have this historical record:
In England, from the medieval period, up until the 1930s, people practiced the Christian custom of souling on Halloween, which involved groups of soulers, both Protestant and Catholic, going from parish to parish, begging the rich for soul cakes, in exchange for praying for the souls of the givers and their friends.
In Scotland and Ireland, guising – children disguised in costume going from door to door for food or coins – is a traditional Halloween custom, and is recorded in Scotland at Halloween in 1895 where masqueraders in disguise carrying lanterns made out of scooped out turnips, visit homes to be rewarded with cakes, fruit, and money.(Wikipeida)
The generally accepted belief is that the mass Irish immigration to the U.S. in the 1840s brought these traditions to the nascent nation. It wasn’t until the 20th century that Halloween picked up momentum in the United States, becoming a regular “holiday” starting in the 1930s.
Of course, in 2017, we have a new twist on Halloween and, as reported in today’s (Oct. 31, 2017) Daily Beast, revelers need to be “culturally sensitive” as they choose their costumes. According to the Beast’s Lizzie Crocker:
Two years after the 2015 debacle over culturally insensitive costumes at Yale, public and private universities across the country are doing their best to prevent students from wearing inappropriate or potentially offensive Halloween costumes.
The University of Michigan posted an October newsletter website reminding students that Halloween is a time when “many make inappropriate decisions about how to dress for the holiday and wear costumes that would constitute cultural appropriation.”
The U-Michigan newsletter offered examples—“Inuit costumes, Geisha costumes, gangster costumes, Native American costumes, etc.”—which could “reinforce offensive stereotypes and humiliate the people you are attempting to represent.”
So, please be careful as to the costume you choose; please don’t give kids raisins or fruit; and please don’t watch the 24/7 news cycle for a day or two and appreciate the salutary effects of a news moratorium.