Ask the Readers: Happy Halloween

My cousin Cynthia posed a question: What is the real meaning of Halloween?

She lives in Bangladesh, where we don’t celebrate Halloween at all. I was tempted to point her to the old Celtic festivals that seem to have birthed Halloween, but who really thinks about that as they’re handing out candy to miniature goblins and witches?

So, here’s a question for the readers:

What does Halloween mean to you?

4 thoughts on “Ask the Readers: Happy Halloween

  1. I don’t celebrate at all because 1) I’m not going to celebrate the dark side of life and 2) in South Africa we’re not big on it, although getting bigger (marketing exercise to extort more money from us???)

    How are you, S?

  2. It’s still easy for me, since our girls are not yet three…I have just been talking about an opportunity for us to dress up in something fun (ladybugs for us this year), visit our neighbors (we’ll only go to a handful of houses surrounding ours, all folks we know very well), and exchange some sweet treats (we’re taking cookies that the girls helped wrap).

    I grew up celebrating Halloween, and I don’t feel like I was “scarred” by the experience, but as a parent now the traditional “meaning” behind the
    holiday is pretty creepy to me.

    I hope I can keep it lighthearted for a long time to come. I will say I can foresee that to be hard, soon, with the guts and gore and tombstones that adorn our neighborhood and any retail establishment this time of year.

  3. For our family, Halloween is just about fun, dressing up, neighbors and candy! :)

    We dress up in something not scary (fireman, train conductor, animal, etc…) and trick or treat in our own neighborhood and then come back and pass out candy. We also do a lot of eating pumpkin (although we do that year round) and we always visit a pumpkin patch sometime in October and carve pumpkins (which consists of the boys choosing something for daddy to carve for them).

    I have no idea the origins of the Halloween holiday, but we’re really just in it for some neighborhood fun and the candy! In fact, I can almost taste the skittles and vanilla tootsie rolls that I will be stealing from my children tonight :)

  4. Halloween originated as a pagan holiday, and modern pagans still observe its equivalent (Samhain) as a way to remember and connect with departed loved ones, as well as a way to mourn the dying of the year and of the light.

    Over time, the emphasis on ghosts/spirits somehow transmuted into a general “scary/paranormal stuff” emphasis, which in turn became just-dressing-up…or so the theory goes. Trick-or-treating is thought to originate in the tradition of leaving offerings to spirits, to keep them from bothering you (and then some enterprising young people figured out that you could impersonate the spirits and get lots of nice offerings for yourself!)

    That said, modern Halloween is all about costumes and fun and candy. No reason not to celebrate it on account of strange origins.

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