By scary emmet
It’s that time of year. You have seen those holiday decorations in the stores since Labor Day. You might as well get ready.
Halloween on Perham Street in West Roxbury meant three things; Setting fire to every available leaf, breaking every possible window, especially in a greenhouse. Oh, and candy.
The best part was when the fire engines came to put out the leaf fires; we got to play on them, setting off the lights and sirens. Some genius in the neighborhood discovered that you could reverse the spring in a wooden clothespin to shoot flaming wooden matches into the waiting leaf piles, without breaking stride.
To this day, I fight strong urges when I see those carefully packaged leaf bags on area lawns. You know what a great fire they would make? But Blue Eyes stops me every time. She won’t even let me own a wooden clothespin.
Apparently, there is more to Halloween than burning leaves, broken glass and…oh, candy.
For your information, the holiday initiates the “Triduum of Allhallowtide,” dedicated to remembering the dead, especially saints, martyrs and faithfully departed believers. According to Wikipedia, it really is an effort to use “humor and ridicule to confront the power of death.” Good luck with that.
According to the experts (you know how much they know) it started with the Irish pagan harvest festival of Samhain (end of summer), until the killjoys in the church took over.
The term Halloween dates back to 1745, even before Chris Fahy was born. The graves of the departed were carefully decorated, because it was believed that the dead and their pals the fairies could come back and haunt the living on that night. These spirits called Aos Si were both respected and feared. Much like Santa Claus, offerings were left for these spirits to assure that the populace and their livestock could survive another damn winter. Special places were set at the table or by the roaring fire for dead relatives with the fervent hope that they would not show.
Once this solemn ritual was concluded, the eating and drinking would commence in style. We are talking Ireland here. You can see where our “trick or treat” ritual started with dead spirts at the door bought off with food and candy. Shakespeare mentions the practice in his comedy “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” (1593), when Speed accuses his master of “puling [whimpering, whining], like a beggar at Hallowmas.”
You might think that we were junior pyromaniacs setting fire to those waiting leaves. But the Irish started special bonfires with careful rituals performed. The magic fire, smoke and ashes were deemed to have “protective and cleansing powers,” plus they were thought to hold back decay and darkness of the damn winter. Some thought the fires might hold the returning spirits at bay.
See? We were actually religious practitioners when we set all those fires.
But behind this apparent lunacy, lay a deeper meaning. Experts tell us that the Druids knew that these three days had a special quality about them. The veil between this world and the world of the ancestors was drawn aside on these nights, and for those who were prepared, journeys could be made in safety to the ’other side’.
Count me out.
These experts report that the Druid rites were concerned with making contact with the spirits of the departed, who were seen as sources of guidance and inspiration rather than as sources of dread. The dark moon, the time when no moon can be seen in the sky, was the phase of the moon which ruled this time, because it represents a time in which our mortal sight needs to be obscured in order for us to see into the other worlds.
That’s why we broke all those windows.