Sunday, November 1, 2015

A little Halloween history as Daylight Saving Time ends

Another Halloween has passed and still no kids have soaped my windows. Slackers! It's not like I'M going to do it. I would rinse them, though, certainly. Squeegee them too. Kids these days couldn't find a bar of soap with a supermarket and a flashlight.

Daylight Saving Time ended this morning, which just means your kids were throwing up candy at 3 a.m. instead of 4. Your body clock is now shot for about a week, so don't fight it. Administer leftover candy corn every four hours until it's gone or it's Christmas, the latter being more likely. 

My children are older now, so the time I would have spent shining a flashlight on curbs last night trick-or-treating I spent instead watching a 20 year old video on the history of Halloween. It wasn't pretty. The 1990s production values, I mean, not the history.

It seems 3000 years ago in Ireland, the locals decided that this period of the year, transitioning from the light to the dark, meant those who had died in the past year might walk the Earth again. In order to appease them, they set out treats on the edge of town, hoping to keep them a respectable distance from the nicer retail areas. Or, as my wife said, "Stay in your grave—here's a Snickers."

To give thanks for nature's bounty, they sacrificed cattle and other animals, burned them on bonfires, and then the Druid in charge interpreted the charred entrails to predict the coming year's prospects for various individuals. Pronouncements like "Sorry, Siobhan, but this smoking cow liver says you should probably not be around knives this year" were common.

Christians, since they could not convince the pagans to give up their autumnal worship of dozens of nature gods, chose the same date to celebrate All Hallows Day. But people, as people will do, kept riffing on the holiday, so that over the centuries we ended up with British children burning effigies of a famous would-be Parliament bomber, and in the American south on Halloween, women began looking for omens of the faces of their future husbands in baked goods. 

Recently some Christians have created "Jesusween," and give out Bibles to children instead of candy. This probably does not go over big at first, but as I recall, back when I was a kid in the bathroom at 3 a.m. repenting my overindulgence, I would have been surprisingly open to salvation.

. . .