After Labor Day for me has always been the slow countdown to one of my favorite holidays, Halloween. Growing up in Kentucky, as soon as the first leaves began to change on the trees outside of my window and when Kroger, our local grocery chain, began stocking canned pumpkin at the front of the store, I knew Halloween wasn't far away.
Halloween originated from the Celtic festival of Samhain which marked the end of the harvest season, and the beginning of winter. This festival was celebrated from October 31 to November 1, and since the ancient Celts associate winter with death, it was believed the veil between the living and the dead was thinner on that night. The festival was speculated to be used as a marker for halfway between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice. Later, in the 18th century, Pope Gregory III, in efforts to help unify the Church liturgical calendar to the secular Pagan calendar, opted to make November 1 a time to honor the Saints, creating All Saints Day or All Souls Day. This merging of festivals helped to further the reach of Christianity and set up how we celebrate Halloween or, if preferred, All Hallows Eve, as many of the traditions for Samhain were incorporated into what we celebrate today.
As a kid in the 1980s in middle/southern America, Halloween was a month long preparation for one night. I would beg my mother to buy these awful vinyl costumes that would rip with ease and had masks that were impossible to breath in. My Octobers were filled with haunted houses, house parties, hayrides, pumpkin patches, and candy. It was magical!
Even as an adult I still have been able to find the joy in dressing up with my daughter, decorating, and buying candy. Usually at this time of year my house is covered with decorations, I have had my first of a hundred pumpkin spice lattes and solidified what my Halloween costume will be.
However this year we have a virus that threatens to make Halloween a real horror story. Yes, Trick o' Treat will probably be cancelled this year. There may be very few haunted houses, pumpkin patches may have strict rules about crowds, and hayrides may not happen. Also you may not feel like celebrating a 'horror' holiday when Covid-19 has given us a year full of real horror and we have been in masks most of the year.
While the realities of this year's Halloween has been in the front of my mind like many of you I have a child who will be missing out on the usual joy of the season if I don't act. So this year I am planning on using our home 3D printer to make costume masks for the entire family. I have been practicing face painting and trying all kinds of spooky Halloween themed recipes.
I challenge you to keep this October spooky. Watch scary movies, read scary spooky novels, be creative, try making a crazy costume, take spooky photos or make creepy decorations. Maybe even take it a step further and make your own horror movie to share with friends or be part of a virtual Halloween parade. We will also do our best to help you get into the holiday spirit by offering some fun Halloween Activities. Sure we may not be able to get candy from our favorite neighbors but we can still enjoy the festive season. The real horror would be not taking this time to celebrate.