Simple Living Works!

Abstract Expressionist Halloween

Posted on: October 26, 2013


See “Hunger Project” below

The Iversens carve pumpkins the Sunday evening before Halloween. Son Peter downloads elaborate designs from the internet and carves masterpieces.

I USE POWER TOOLS to create a modern abstract expressionist Jack o’Latrine (suitable for the bathroom). Yes, I use various size bits to make random light spots — no eyes, no mouth, nothing recognizable. Its always interesting, if not “beautiful.”

Halloween is wife Rita’s favorite holiday. She loves to dress-up. It’s one of my least favorites, so the power tools help me to express my distain for the day and still show a bit of respect for Rita’s love of it. AND last year she used my power tools for the first time! (I’m not sure what that means.)

Anyway, here’s a bit of history and some options if you also have mixed feelings about Halloween:

Halloween refers to the evening before All Halloween or All Saints’ Day and is celebrated on October 31. The origins of the day come from the Druids’ New Year celebration. Along with some other groups, the Druids believed that on the last day of the year the dead came back to mingle with the living. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III moved All Hallow’s to November 1, probably in an attempt to provide an alternative to the popular pagan festival. All Saints’ Day was in honor of all the saints who had died, whether or not the church had yet officially canonized them. During the Middle Ages, All Hallow’s Eve became known as a special time for witches and sorcerers.

Halloween costumes started in medieval times when churches displayed relics of saints. Those parishes too poor to have relics let parishioners dress up to imitate saints.

The tradition of Halloween as Mischief Night, when pranks of all sorts were played on the unsuspecting, likely originated with the old belief that on All Hallow’s Eve ghosts roamed the countryside playing tricks. Pranks could thus be blamed on the ghosts.

Many Halloween traditions come from Ireland and Scotland. Bobbing for apples is one of them. The jack o’lantern supposedly comes from an Irish legend about an old sot, Jack, who made a deal with the devil for his soul. The angered devil supposedly threw a live coal at Jack, and it landed in a half-eaten turnip in Jack’s hand. The resulting coal in the turnip became a jack o’lantern.

The blend of legend, religion, and mischief has combined to make Halloween a unique celebration. Commercialism has had its effect on the festivities, as children beg for costumes like their favorite television characters and for treats which are hopelessly lacking in nourishment. Because parents fear for the safety of their children, children are discouraged from accepting any treats that are not commercially packaged.

While Halloween is very popular with children, several factors compel us to reexamine current practices in celebrating Halloween. First, more candy is consumed by children on Halloween and the day after than in any other 48-hour period of the year. Second, we have witnessed the return of Mischief Night, with malicious and destructive pranks being played, especially in urban areas. Third, trick-or-treaters find harmful things such as razors and poison in their collected goodies.

Having said that, creativity and planning, combined with moderation and safety, can make Halloween fun.

BONUS: If you’d rather focus on All Saints, read Christine Sine’s blog at Mustard Seed Associates.

* * *


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