Over the centuries, Halloween has had any number of names, interpretations, and meanings associated with it. Whether you choose to call it ‘All Hallows Eve, The Eve of All Saints’ Day, or as in the case of modern days, Halloween, it basically boils down to one common theme—and that is the chance to wear outrageous costumes, and for one night, act out your wildest imaginative fantasy in ways that would otherwise be deemed as unacceptable or immature. For kids, it represents a time of fun and excitement, dressing up as princesses, butterflies, and superheroes and receiving bags full of tasty treats that would make any dentist smile with glee.
Regardless of what it has been referred to, this special evening has been considered to be one of the most magical evenings of the year. It’s an evening of power and uninhibited fun; it’s a time when the spiritual and material worlds collide momentarily, when the veil separating the here and the hereafter is believed to be at its most narrow juncture.
I was raised in a blue-collar neighborhood not far from Boston, Massachusetts. When I was young, Halloween was celebrated at a time when there were no huge shopping malls and hardly any commercialization. We created simple costumes out of anything that happened to be lying around the house, and trick-or-treating was a mad dash to see how many houses we could visit in the allotted time to fill up our brown paper bags with candy.
Our Community Center held pie-eating contests, we bobbed for apples, carved pumpkins, and sometimes enjoyed hayrides. And a local car dealership even handed out free ‘Hoodsies’ (a small paper cup filled with vanilla and chocolate ice cream, with a wooden spoon attached under the cover).
Of course, celebrating Halloween during my adolescent years wasn’t without a modicum of mischief, either. I had certainly engaged in behavior unbecoming a responsible young man, such as throwing raw eggs at passing cars, writing on objects with shaving crème, taking pumpkins from front porches and rolling them down hilly streets, breaking them into many pieces, and even taking candy from other trick-or-treaters because I was too lazy to collect my own—activities that I now regret having been part of.
While attending Salem State College, located in ‘Witch City’ of Salem Mass, where Halloween is a serious, week-long ritual, I was indoctrinated as to the historical significance of this esteemed observance each year. It could best be described as a homecoming where thousands of ghouls and goblins descend upon this north shore community to share camaraderie for a common, fun-filled purpose.
Whether you believe in ghosts or the supernatural is irrelevant; what’s most important is that you make Halloween a safe and fun celebration for all!