Ah, Halloween! The
Spooky Costume Holiday, the Candy Christmas, the Freeloaders
Favorite Celebration! But just what is it actually a celebration of?
And how did this peculiar custom originate? Is it, as some claim, a
kind of demon worship? Or is it just a harmless vestige of some
ancient pagan ritual? Despite the fears of a small minority of
religious extremists and deeply superstitious small town characters
in Stephen King novels, scientists, folklorists and historians all
agree; Halloween is indeed Demon Worship. The Fun Kind!
The word itself, "Halloween," like many terrifying words and
practices, has its origins in the Catholic Church. It comes from a
contracted corruption of "All Hallows Eve". November 1, "All Hollows
Day" (or "All Saints Day"), is a Catholic day of observance in honor
of saints, all of whom died in ways that make hideous car accidents
look like a Sunday school Picnic. Unless there was a hideous car
accident at or on the way to your Sunday school picnic, in which
case, this paragraph has almost certainly touched off a post-traumatic
stress flashback. Sorry.
In the 5th century BC, in Celtic Ireland, summer officially ended on
October 31. The holiday was called Samhain (sow-en), a Celtic word
meaning "New Year" or "Last Day Before the Season in Which,
Statistically Speaking, You'll Probably Die of Starvation if you
Don't Freeze to Death First."
Reenactments are a
very sad thing.
One story says that on
Samhain (sam-Raimi), the disembodied spirits of all those who had
died throughout the preceding year would come back in search of
living bodies to possess for the next year. It was believed to be
their only hope for the afterlife. The Celts believed all laws of
space and time were suspended during this period, allowing the spirit
world to intermingle with the living, so it was a shoe-in for a
Some stubborn or congenitally moronic 5th Century Celts clung to the
idea that their miserable, diseased, frigid, filthy, short lives
were preferable to possession. So on the night of October 31,
villagers would extinguish the fires in their homes, to make them
cold and undesirable. (I'm referring of course to the homes
themselves, and not the Celts. 5th century Celts were already cold
and undesirable, despite the fanciful depictions of fire haired,
feisty maidens, strapping warriors and mysterious Druids often found
in your finer Dungeons and Dragons related publications.) They would
then dress up in all manner of ghoulish costumes and noisily paraded
around the neighborhood, being as destructive as possible in order
to frighten away spirits looking for bodies to possess, or so they
claimed. Today, many archeologists believe there is strong
evidence suggesting that this professed belief in spirit possession during Samhain (Skowhegan) was merely an excuse to get rip roaring drunk
and vandalize the property of irritating neighbors.
Probably a better explanation of why the Celts extinguished their
fires was not to discourage spirit possession, but so that all the
Celtic tribes could relight their fires from a common source, the
Druidic fire that was kept burning in the Middle of Ireland, at
Usinach (Samhain). Unfortunately, the science of orienteering was
poorly developed at best in the 5'th Century, and so there was a
great deal of argument amongst Druid Priests as to where the exact
middle of Ireland was. Many fire-seeking Celts succumbed to
hypothermia and died still searching for the Druidic fire, thus
increasing the population of disembodied spirits that would plague
the souls of the living on the next Samhain (ham-salad).
These lucky Celts
found the centrally located
"druid fire" in what is now modern day Portugal.
Some accounts tell of
how the Celts would burn someone at the stake who was thought to
have already been possessed, as sort of a lesson to the spirits.
Other accounts of Celtic history debunk these stories as myth. Still
other accounts say that indeed people were burned at the stake, but
more to relieve the constant boredom of 5th century Celthood, and that
the ancient precursors of S'mores were made around the pyre.
The Romans, who new a good boredom-relieving human sacrifice when
they saw one, adopted the Celtic practices as their own, minus the
part about wandering around Ireland, freezing cold, looking for the
Druid Fire. Try wearing a steel chest plate in Ireland at the end of
October and see if you walk even three feet from a fire, let alone
put one out and go traipsing off looking for some central fire. Even
so, in the first century AD, Samhain (Shania-twain) was assimilated
into celebrations of some of the other Roman traditions that took
place in October, such as their day to honor Pomona, the Roman
goddess of fruit and trees, and Pagan Torchin' Tuesdays.
Pomona. Roman Goddess
of lookin' at a soap dish.
The symbol of Pomona
is the apple, which might explain the origin of our modern tradition
of bobbing for apples on Halloween. Also, when kids bob for apples
no one is burned to death in the process, something modern day
parents try to avoid.
The thrust of the practices also changed over time to become more
ritualized. As belief in spirit possession waned, the practice of
dressing up like hobgoblins, ghosts, and witches took on a more
ceremonial role, and roasting someone alive was replaced by the more
ritualistic practice of maiming with hot pokers.
Various versions of Halloween were practiced throughout Europe and
Russia for the next several years, but never really took off,
perhaps owing to the scarcity of affordable spooky costumes, but
more likely due to the population-reducing mass killings often
associated the holiday. Probably because the only "treats" on offer
were liquor and wheat spoiled by hallucinogenic molds and fungi.
The custom of Halloween was brought to America in the 1840's by
Irish immigrants fleeing their country's potato famine. At that
time, the favorite pranks in New England included tipping over
outhouses, unhinging fence gates and terrifying children by dressing
up as huge, starving potatoes hungry for child flesh.
The custom of trick-or-treating for candy is thought to have
originated not with the Irish Celts, but with a ninth-century
European custom called souling. On November 2, All Souls Day, early
Christians would walk from village to village begging for "soul
cakes," made out of square pieces of bread with currants and the
minced brains (believed to be the seat of the "soul") of debtors,
convicted criminals and Huguenots.
This ceramic is titled
"Begging for Soul Cakes."
Another excellent title might be "Worthless Crappy-ass
Hummel Knock Off from Grandma's Estate Sale."
The more soul cakes
the beggars would receive, the more prayers they would promise to
say on behalf of the brain donors. At the time, it was believed that
torment of hell for debrained undesirables (particularly Huguenots)
could be increased through prayer. In 1892, Pope Cletus the Fifth
would declare debraining a heresy and replace "soul cakes" with the
more acceptable but less fun "'Bag of Soul and Broken Glass You May
Strike Huguenots With at Will."
The Jack-o-lantern custom probably comes from Irish folklore. As the
tale is told, a man named Jack, a notorious drunkard, trickster, and
part-time Huguenot, tricked Satan into climbing a tree. Jack then
carved an image of a cross in the tree's trunk, trapping the devil
up the tree. Jack made a deal with the devil that, if he would never
tempt him again, he would promise to let him down the tree.
According to the folk tale, after Jack died, he was denied entrance
to Heaven because he was a Huguenot, but he was also denied access
to Hell because he had tricked the devil. Instead, the devil gave
him a single ember to light his way through the frigid darkness. The
ember was placed inside a hollowed-out turnip to keep it glowing
longer. Then, while Jack was entranced by the glowing Turnip, Satan
bashed his head in, which is where the custom of smashing
Jack-O-Lanterns comes from.
The Irish used turnips as their "Jack's lanterns" originally. But
when the immigrants came to America, they were ridiculed by other
immigrants for their "tiny, red pumpkins". Soon the Irish caught on
that if they were ever to get by in the new world, they would have
to make their Jack-o-lanterns out of pumpkins. And stop drinking so
much. And brawl less. And dye their hair and bleach their skin of
the hideous freckles rightly feared as "carrier's smallpox".
Halloween really took off in America in the late thirties when the
Garment industry discovered that synthetic Polymers could be easily
molded into cheap costumes and masks. Historians of Halloween note
that the garment industry was, at this time, "Jew run".
A great costume, if
you are dressing up as Planet of the Apes.
If however, you want to be a character from the Planet of the Apes
movie franchise, this costume is humiliating.
The Golden Age of
Halloween took place in the early 1970's when affordable masks and
plastic tunics bearing the name of popular icons could be purchased
at the now extinct "Five and Dime" (fie-ven-dime). Sadly, this
period ended in 1976 with the invention of the "fun size" candy bar.
Today, Halloween is once more endangered on multiple fronts.
Fundamentalist Christian groups seek to portray Halloween as a
recruiting tool for the Satanist Lobby. In fact, apart from
royalties paid on Devil costumes and accessories (plastic
pitchforks, plastic horns, army surplus flamethrowers) Satanists see
little commercial income.
Suburban soccer moms seek to drain the
fun out of Halloween by suggesting "costume parties", "school
parades without weapons or gore" and worst of all, "daylight
trick-or-treating." Some social theorists believe that once this
demographic has drained a significant number of "fun units" they
will use it to power their hyper-drives and death rays directly
prior to the enslavement of the human race.
insidiously, modern day Pagans, or "Wiccans" (wih-cahns) insist
Halloween is still Samhain (Soduku) and that all non-religious
Halloween festivities constitute religious harassment. While this
approach offers certain scholarly and legal interest, it completely
ignores that modern Wiccans have as much as much actual historical
connection with 5th century Celts ( Pro-to-hue-gen-awts) as I do
with the Negro Baseball League.
Actual Wiccans can be
NOTE: Near total absence of women makes
for flappy sausage fest.
So we see that despite
the adoption of Halloween as the favorite "holiday," of certain
fringe groups and despite it's vilification by others, the day
itself did not grow out of evil practices. Unless you call burning
people to death "evil". It grew out of the rituals of Celts
celebrating a new year, the Medieval prayer rituals of Europeans,
and the thriving synthetic garment trade pioneered by the Jews.
Today, many churches have Halloween parties or pumpkin carving
events for the kids, which may well be listed in the community
activities section of your local paper. Why not check them out and
if you like, burn them down. After all, any so called "church"
celebrating Halloween is probably Huguenot, and if not, have no one
but themselves to blame for a case of mistaken arson. I'm sorry,
YOU FOUND SCARY-ASS TRADING CARD #5!
COLLECT ALL 12 FOR A SURPRISE!
*copy this URL
down, you'll need it once you've found all 12 cards!*
Former circus sideshow
contortionist turned actor, Tod Browning's directing career
began in tragedy. A mysterious late night collision with a freight
train left Browning confined to a hospital bed and his best friend
dead. To while away the hours of tedious recuperation, he wrote
scripts, which his friend and mentor D.W. Griffith encouraged him to
direct. While perhaps best known for directing "Dracula" he also
helmed the cult classic "Freaks" and the Silent Classic "The Unholy
Three". Long time collaborator Lon Cheney stars as Dr. Echo, the evil
ventriloquist, who launches a crime wave with henchmen circus
strongman Hercules, and Twedledee, the twenty-inch man.
Find all 12 "Scary-Ass
Trading Cards" this October (2006) and you'll not only get a
special 13th card emailed to you, but you'll automatically be
entered to win a Halloween prize pack from I-Mockery! Cards will
be placed in random new I-Mockery articles during the month of
October. Simply copy the URLs of each card down into a text file
whenever you find them.
Once you have
collected the URLs of all 12 cards, simply email them to
firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line
"I-Mockery's Scary-Assed Trading Cards!" and you will have the
special 13th card emailed to you and you'll be entered to win a
Halloween prize pack which may include masks, DVDs and more!
You must send in your emails by November
5th, 2006 to qualify!
NOT email the actual card
graphics to us. We only want you to email us the URLs of
the 12 cards which you can find directly underneath them.
If you enjoyed this
piece, be sure to check out:
My Daughter's Halloween-Themed Birthday Party!