Why Halloween

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The few months back I was searching through an old rugged shed my family owned filled with unwanted junk. Boxes of VHS tapes, toys, home decor and most importantly, holiday decorations. Beneath the the cobwebs and dust were blow molds of Mary and baby Jesus. In water stained boxes were House of Lloyd and Avon Christmas decorations from my childhood, but none of this was the treasure I sought. In the back of the shed was a large grey and plastic tote with the words “Halloween” emblazoned in magic marker.

I am a sucker for nostalgia, its just something I have had to accept the closer I get to 30. What brought me joy as a child and teenager are still things that, to one degree or more, brings me happiness. The funny thing about nostalgia is that it can be so subtle you don’t realize its the reason behind why you love something. And thats not a bad thing.

Halloween has always been nostalgic for me, but it only took the past year or so for me to become aware of that. Perhaps its because my wife and I bought my old house, the one I grew up in. Whatever the reason for the awareness, the orange and black of Halloween has etched itself deep into my mind. The costumes, the music, the jack-o-lanterns and of course the decorations, which brings me back to the shed.

As I opened the hallowed chest of my childhood, floods of memories of Octobers past came over me. Nights trick-or-treating in different parts of town, the occasional Halloween party, the carving, the costumes, it all hit me. I began to pull out skulls and paper mache pumpkins, orange lights and Beistle paper decorations abound! Nostalgia is worse than endorphins.

Nostalgia may have been the gateway drug into the realm of ghouls and ghosts, but there certainly is more to it. I have always had an affinity for the supernatural, dark, and mysterious. I have always loved Horror films since I was a young, and frightened, child. I always appreciated the superstitions and fantasies of the cultures of the world. I adored ghost stories, monsters and all things that go bump in the night. Most importantly for me however, is the idea of death, the afterlife, and rebirth.

As a Christian, I recognize the sordid and intertwined history of the Church and Halloween. I also choose to see past the hype and fear-mongering. For me, Halloween showcases and commemorates the dead, our dead, our family, friends and ancestors. The day comes to us from ages past wrapped in mystery and steeped in darkness. Halloween also promises something, something to come. The promise of Halloween is that death is not the end, that we can commune in some way to those who have gone before. There is something to learn from our past, from our ancestors.

The Hallowtide is an attempt in learning what Halloween has to offer. Its an attempt to lift the veil between life and death, analyzing why Halloween means so much to me and brings back waves of nostalgic memories of bonfires and masks, why I like to see the world in shades of orange and black.

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