Close to Nowhere
October 31 – Halloween – is really the Day of the Dead. It’s actually a real holiday, celebrated by many different religions, among them Methodists and Catholics. The day is a prelude to November 1, All Saints Day.
On the Day of the Dead, custom was to disguise yourself by wearing a hideous costume, to drive away all the souls of the dead who roamed the earth that day. Many carried carved pumpkins to aid in scaring away any demons that might be running around that day. I think that souls were allowed to roam on October 31 to check up on loved ones still living. And of course, demons, etc. snuck out to intermingle and just generally cause pain and grief.
That is, in my humble opinion, the reason everyone dresses up in weird outfits. The treats (candy) were used to keep the souls and the demons from playing tricks on the living.
I particularly remember one specific Halloween when I was a kid. I was a ghost (sheet with eye holes; we didn’t buy a lot of costumes back in the “old days”). A bunch of us neighborhood playmates and friends had all gone out together trick or treating. I think I was about
10. We all were having a great time and my bag was just chock full of candy and treats.
As on all my childhood Halloweens, our neighborhood was filled with kids. There were also older boys out running around and a group of them came by my little band of friends and they snatched our full bags. I was brokenhearted! We rallied and went back around, but by then most of the houses were out of candy and doors were shut. I grieved a long time for that bag of candy and the joy has never been the same on Halloween since.
We didn’t know about All Saints Day when we were growing up. I grew up in the Baptist church and it just wasn’t something we did.
I learned about All Saints Day when I began going to a Methodist Church. My church doesn’t celebrate the day, but it is talked and taught about.
I love the idea of the day. The saints and good souls all come out and walk among the living. One special custom was to write a prayer or praise on a slip of paper and then burn it. The saints read the prayers and praise in the rising smoke.
It’s a comforting thought to think that maybe someone you loved and has gone on, comes back and chases away the demons and unhappy dead from the day before.
I sure would have been happy to see one getting after the big boys who stole all our candy that one Halloween night.