Well today is Halloween. You probably know that “Halloween” is short for “All Hallow’s Eve.” But have you ever wondered “eve of what?”
I mean, Christmas Eve is the night before Christmas. So what is All Hallow’s Eve the night before of? You never hear about All Hallow’s Day. And why do we just celebrate the eve and not the actual holiday the eve is the night before of? And, also, how many grammatical rules have I broken in this paragraph?
Perhaps that shall be a subject for another day. Or eve.
Anyway, it turns out that there is an All Hallow’s Day that All Hallow’s Eve is, um, the night before of. But that’s just the beginning of Allhallowtide, a three-day observance to (according to Wikipedia) “remember the dead, including martyrs, saints, and all faithful departed Christians.”
According to that same entry, “hallow” is another word for “saint.” Which brings up a very important question: Who are the saints in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? And did J.K. Rowling really mean “deathly,” as in “death-like” or “deadly” as in “potentially fatal?”
Perhaps that, too, shall be a subject for another day.
Anyway, as should be obvious to anyone who has attended the Halloween Parade in New York’s Greenwich Village, Halloween has ventured afield somewhat from its religious roots. You see, over the centuries, Allhallowtide got smooshed together with all sorts of pagan rituals and harvest celebrations and Gaelic traditions and excessive beer advertising so that the whole thing moved just a little bit away from a somber remembrance of “the dead, including martyrs, saints, and all faithful departed Christians.” I know that the Halloween pop-up store that opened near me where an Eastern Mountain Sports used to be has very little merchandise relating to honoring the holy deceased, unless you include the tombstone lawn ornaments, on sale 2-for-1.
“In England, from the medieval period, up until the 1930s, people practiced the Christian custom of souling on Halloween, which involved groups of soulers, both Protestant and Catholic, going from parish to parish, begging the rich for soul cakes, in exchange for praying for the souls of the givers and their friends.”
And my wife and I thought we didn’t get many trick-or-treaters because our house is at the top of a long, 45-degree-inclined driveway and the kids in our neighborhood were too lazy and out-of-shape from eating Halloween candy to bother to schlep to our door. But it was because we’re not rich enough! Either that, or they just don’t like our Skittles Soul Cakes.
Meanwhile, the three-day festival of Allhallowtide has pretty much disappeared altogether, except for some folks who need the three days to recover from that Halloween party at which revelers first imbibed Gregory’s “Hallow Punch” which had several unnamed secret ingredients, and then exchanged costumes, and then got rid of the costumes, and then woke up on November 1 with a huge headache and someone of undetermined gender who was dressed as a satyr with a Donald Trump mask.
Now that I’ve told you all this, doesn’t it seem weird to have an “eve” without a corresponding holiday? Of course it does. So I encourage all of you to get out there tomorrow (and the next day) and celebrate Allhallowtide by dressing as your favorite saint and performing a miracle or two.
Halloween News Bulletin
The Connecticut State Dental Association is sponsoring a Halloween Candy Buy Back program, with some dentists paying $1 or $2 a pound to purchase the kids’ treats, which they worked hard to get, actually going outdoors and walking. A CSDA news release said:
“The amount of sugar consumed around Halloween and other such holidays becomes a health issue when you compare the numbers. The FDA recommends that people eat no more than 50 grams of sugar each day. And the average candy bar has nearly 25 grams of sugar.”
Yeah, right. Meanwhile, a 40-ounce bag of Nestle’s minis costs $8.99 on Amazon, so those dentists are really ripping off those poor children. Although the CSDA says the repurchased candy will be sent to our troops abroad.
I guess, while overseas, soldiers are not bound by the rules of the FDA and can eat as much candy as they like.
See you soon.