Hello Fellow Readers,
I enjoy Halloween enthusiasts who decorate their homes as if it were Christmas with purple and orange lights, cobwebs and spiders. Even smoke machines reminiscent of the disco days. I came upon a house during a walk with Miss Ellie who barked a warning which she rarely does. Skeletons, goblins and ghosts decorated the front yard; some hanging from ropes, others hiding behind rocks. Where did the gruesome side of Halloween originate, I thought to myself. I prefer happy jack-o’-lanterns and hay stalks. Jolly ghosts are fine too.
A Google search revealed that Halloween originates 2,000 years ago by the Celts who lived in what is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France. They celebrated November 1st as their New Year; a day that marked the harvest and beginning of winter. Winter was associated with death as they struggled to live through the cold with a shortage of food. They held a festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in) from sunset on October 31st to sunset of November 1st. The night of the 31st is when the Celts believed spirits of the dead returned and places were set at their tables to invite them home. The presence of spirits was thought to help Celtic priests predict the future which served as comfort as they faced the harsh winter ahead. They dressed in disguise, mostly in mummy-like costumes from what I read, and visited neighbors reciting verses in exchange for food such as nuts and apples.
The Celtic celebrations found its way into Christianity in the eighth century when Pope Gregory III named November 1st a day to honor saints. It morphed into All Saints’ Day and integrated some of the Celtic traditions of celebration. The evening before was first called All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween. Somehow Halloween shifted to a secular holiday and the nuts and apples turned into candy. Perhaps a strategy of candy companies, but all in good fun.
I’ve heard of Halloween in the Garden events held at Public Gardens or Garden Centers which is a clever way to introduce young folks to the fun of gardening and maybe encourage a purchase of an end of season plant. Perhaps bulbs could be given as a treat. Its time to plant spring flowering bulbs after all. Okay, maybe candy needs to remain the main attraction… Still, why not dress up as a vegetable or fruit rather than a ghost or goblin. My associate and friend Rachel of Stillwater NJ sent me a photo of baby Grant readying for his first Trick or Treat dressed in a precious pea outfit that tops the chart in cuteness. Garden Dilemmas? Askmarystone@gmail.com