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As the days grow shorter and we welcome the darker half of the year, it’s almost time to celebrate that most spooky (and sugary) of holidays!
Did you know that Halloween takes its customs from the Celtic folk festival of Samhain? It bore little resemblance to the holiday we all know and love today.
During Samhain, it was thought that spirits could more easily enter our world, and that departed family members would seek hospitality from their kin. Their relatives among the living would set places at the dinner table for these spirits to welcome them.
Rather than being a cause for fear, it was a tradition of welcoming departed family and loved ones into your home, an otherworldly reminder that those we loved are never truly gone. Eerie, yet poignant, don’t you think?
Halloween wasn’t a significant part of my childhood, or at least not in the same way it was for other children. My family lived outside of town and we didn’t have neighbours, so trick-or-treating was never what I looked forward to – rather, Halloween was about the pageantry of dressing up, of becoming someone else.
When I was twelve, I befriended a girl who lived in town, and every Halloween we would dress up and walk around her neighborhood. Later, as adults, we attended the Fireman’s Halloween Ball (a fundraiser for muscular dystrophy), and we made elaborate costumes for the event each year. To our great delight, we won several prizes for our efforts.
My friend and I were both sewers and enjoyed the sport of making elaborate costumes without patterns; it became a source of friendly competition between us. One year we made banana costumes; another year, we were beavers.
Some of you may remember Tunagate, when, in 1985, large quantities of StarKist tuna were declared unfit for human consumption and sold to the public. That year, my friend and I made two tuna fish costumes and carried around a large StarKist can with us. It was an absolute hoot.
When I think about Halloween, it is always these elements that surface as most important: the warmth of shared friendship, of shared experiences, and of the unparalleled joy I felt dreaming up and sewing those detailed costumes.
Whether you’re reflecting fondly on your own memories of the season or preparing to create new ones with the tiny trick-or-treaters in your life, there’s no debating that it’s a magical time of year. After all, how could it be anything but magical with all the chocolate involved?
Until next time,