Halloween is just four days away—one of my favorite days of the year!
It's widely believed that Halloween was influenced by western European harvest festivals with roots in earlier traditions, especially the Celtic Samhain (pronounced SAH-win). Samhain, the Celtic New Year, was celebrated on November 1st. According to the American Folklife Center at the U.S. Library of Congress, the Celts gathered around bonfires lit to honor the dead. At Samhain, the Celts believed that the wall between worlds was at its thinnest and that the ghosts of the dead could re-enter the material world to mingle with the living. At Samhain, the Celts sacrificed animals and wore costumes (most probably animal skins). They also wore masks or colored their faces to confuse faeries, demons, and human spirits that were thought to walk among them.
Originally celebrated on May 13th from 609 AD, the date of All Saints’ was changed by Pope Gregory IV in 835 AD to November 1st, the same day as Samhain. All Saints’ was followed by All Souls’ Day on November 2nd and, by the end of the 12th century, these days together became Holy Days of Obligation—days in the Church’s calendar set aside to honor the saints and to pray for the souls of the recently departed. Related traditions included groups of poor people and children who went “souling” from door to door on All Saints’/All Souls’ to beg for traditional soul cakes (mentioned by Shakespeare in The Two Gentleman of Verona when Speed accuses his master of puling [whimpering] like a beggar at Hallowmas). In return for the soul cakes, the beggars promised to pray for the households’ dead. “Souling” is very likely the older tradition from which today’s trick or treating evolved. Click here for a Soul Cake recipe: Click here for a Soul Cake recipe.
Dressing up in costumes (called “fancy dress” in England) has a long history. Masked balls and other fancy dress occasions were popular long before the custom of wearing costumes on Halloween came into popular practice. Halloween costumes as we know them today were first recorded as late as 1895 in Scotland with little evidence of the practice in England, Ireland, or the US before 1900. Early Halloween costumes took their character from Halloween’s pagan and Gothic sensibilities and were worn mainly by children. These costumes were made at home from found materials, but by the 1930s, several companies began to manufacture Halloween costumes for sale in stores, and trick or treating became popular in North America.
From the time I was little, I enjoyed Halloween costumes for the pure fun of them but also because in costume I was able to step out of myself and into another personality. Back on October 23, 2012, we wrote about masks. This week, in honor of Halloween, the challenge is to write about a costume that you’ve worn, would like to wear, or would never wear (an actual costume or a metaphorical costume).
Write a poem about a costume “experience” that you had as a child or as an adult.
Write a poem about a costume that you’d love to wear. What’s the “character” you’d like to “become” on a Halloween night? Why and how would a particular costume take you out of yourself and into a new personality?
Write a poem about the costume would you never want to wear and why.
Write a poem about a Halloween costume that corresponds to a current news event; be sure to explain why you would choose this costume.
Write a poem in which you “create” a bizarre costume that makes no reasonable sense—a fantasy costume. Describe it and explain what it means to you.
Write a poem about the animal you’d like to dress up as and “become” on Halloween night.
Write a poem about a historical person whom you’d like to “become” on Halloween.
Write a poem about about a costume party that you attended.
Remember as you write to let your poem take you where it wants to go and to be aware of meanings other than the obvious.
What a great picture of you and your little dog! How did you get the tiny little fangs for him?ReplyDelete
This is a very interesting prompt!
Thanks, Jamie! The puppy fangs are courtesy of an online photo program that I use. It's called Ribbet. (Very intuitive and easy to use with lots of great features.)Delete
Robbet is GREAT! I started using it when it replaced an earlier program called "PicNik." It has the same exact features and, so far, it's been free.Delete
Another good one, Adele!ReplyDelete
If you're in the path of Hurricane Sandy, I send you my best wishes for safety. I'm right in its path with the hatches battened, hoping we'll all be safe.
Thank you for the good wishes, Rich! I send the same to you and to all in Sandy's path.Delete
We're expecting a hard hit this evening and into tomorrow. My town has already declared a state of emergency, and we're all praying!
I am praying you and everyone in Sandy's path are ok. I am tired from worry. Your voice mail doesn't work so...I am posting here and hope to hear from youReplyDelete
Thanks so much, Risa! I just got Internet service back today (out since October 29th). Can't tell you how much I've missed being in touch with all of you!Delete
Don't you know me?
I'm not dead!
I'm not a ghost!
I'm just dressed for Halloween.
I'll wash off my make-up
You still don't recognize me?
Awww—lovely! Appropriate for children and perhaps a deeper meaning as well ...Delete
Thanks so much for sharing!
Very interesting info on halloween. I did not know that!ReplyDelete
Thanks for your comment. So glad you enjoyed the Halloween info, Robert!Delete
Where are you???? I went to bed last night trying to remember the name of the priest who did the animals' blessings. I am praying you and furbaby are ok and will be back online very very sooooon.ReplyDelete
So sorry you were worried, dear Risa! All is well (as I hope you know by now). It's been a long week of power outages, gas lines, fallen trees and wires, and general chaos here in town. We're digging out and things are getting better each day.Delete
Thank you so much for your prayers!
Sadly, because of the storm, Halloween was cancelled here. Not a single trick-or-treater this year, and no parade and costume party at LaGrande Park. I did put my plastic fangs in, though and I wore one of the old masks around the house for a while. Sigh ...ReplyDelete
Adeleeeeeeeee isssssssssss backkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkReplyDelete
You're soooooo sweet!