Thursday, October 30, 2008
Hallowe'en Explained (Again)
Hallowe'en's a mess. Everybody tells me so.
Read the newspapers. Hallowe'en is a combination salacious bachanaal, devil worship love-in, workplace sexual harrassment playground-- with the added attractions of being fired, run down by cars, dressing your daughters as Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver, and perhaps getting razor blades or anthrax in your kid's candy. Other than that: Have Fun!
Pope Gregory III moved Festum omnium sanctorum --All Saints Day -- to November first to put a Christian gloss on the thing, but I bet appeasing dead spirits that walk the earth with treats goes back to the times of the caves of Altamira. The actual caves, not the Steely Dan song.
Co-opting an existing tradition for a current generation's amusement. Hmm. Sounds exactly like what every crank, weirdo, jerk, and dogooder busybody is trying to do right now with Hallowe'en. At least the Pope just monkeyed about with the day after Hallowe'en, so his flock could enjoy a pagan festivity without worrying about it much. It's like a Fortune 500 company hiring P Diddy as a spokesman. It's more about image than any change in substance. My apologies for referring to him as "P Diddy." I think he's just "Diddy" now. Or perhaps he's changed it again; it's almost 10:00 am and I haven't checked today.
I don't have much of an opinion about Hallowe'en. Everyone seems to have lost their minds about it. There, that's an opinion.
I see problems:
1. People use the day as an excuse to do vicious things to one another. I don't care for that. I don't think you really want to be placed in any jail population wearing a costume. Knock it off.
2. Adults participate in it more than children now. That's silly. Adults are supposed to walk behind their children with a flashlight and carry their charges and their loot for the last 7/8 of the trip.
3. People's insane ideas about what other people should eat are intruding on the fun. Hint to homeowners: children like candy. Children don't like candy designed for diabetics. Trust me on this one.
4. Paganism is the root of Hallowe'en. If you're an actual Pagan, or Druid, or Wiccan, or think you're a witch or warlock, I've got news for you: Hallowe'en ain't your night. It's NOT the one night when everybody sees the essential coolness of your worldview; it's the one night of the year that normal people pay enough attention to the imaginary trappings of your foolish worldview to make fun of you. That's it. Just like everybody else on Hallowe'en, you should behave and look differently for a short period. In your case, you should dress normally and act in a dignified and intelligent manner for a little while . You can spend the other 364 days acting like a loon.
5. Hallowe'en considered changing its name to: "The College Kids Don't Wear Much, Drink Still Liquor- Keystone- Cough Medicine-Rohypnol Smashes While Re-enacting the Sack of Troy, Amateur Arson/ Rapist/ NASCAR driver/Insane Jehovah's Witness/ Melee Night." It wouldn't fit on the t-shirt, so they left it alone. College kids don't need Hallowe'en. College kids only need the calendar to read "Thursday; PM," for all that. No use eggin' them on.
I'm here to help. Let's solve all our problems with Hallowe'en:
At around dusk, small children dressed in cute and fantastic costumes will visit the doors of their nearby neighbors, who will give them a little Snickers bar for their trouble. Any child old enough to be unaccompanied by an adult is too old to trick-or-treat. The children's parents will stand slightly behind their children and wave to the neighbors and they will exchange pleasantries. The home will have a pumpkin or two on the step, and perhaps the silhouette of a witch on a broom and a black cat, cut from construction paper by a gradeschooler, in the window. These small children will not be frightened by this activity, and startling people for your amusement will get you only a rap on the head from a Maglite flashlight that you will commemorate for several weeks by rubbing the lump it leaves on your addled head. The small children will be home and asleep at the regular hour, more or less.
While they sleep the deep, comforting sleep of the weary and contented child, I will steal their candy.