Halloween to most of us means candy, costumes and trick-or- treating. For New Yorkers it means one of the biggest parades of the year – hundreds of thousands of people congregate in Greenwich Village in elaborate costumes. You can even see it on national television.
Hallows or Hallomas started out as a festival to honor the Crone, -the wise grandmother. Over the years it has been transformed into wicked old witches flying on broomsticks with black cats. Even the cauldron has changed meaning as it represented the womb of the Goddess -a symbol of rebirth. Did you know that the idea of going from door to door to ask for candy and sweets actually comes from a British custom of asking for money for the poor?
When the Christian Church took over the holiday they renamed it Halloween (hallowed eve) The Celtic name is Samhain -summers end – and is the beginning of the Celtic New Year. Hallowed means holy and this is a sacred time for honoring our ancestors. For many cultures this is a time when the ancestors return to visit and communicate with the living. In Latin America, El Dia del las Muertes is celebrated at the cemetery. Families sweep the graves, bring food, create altars and celebrate the ancestors. In Ireland, people believe that the fairy people come out on this special night as the veil is lifted. Christians all over the world celebrate All Souls Day and All Saints Day (November 1 and 2).
In the true spirit of Halloween, let us take some time to honor our ancestors and to share their gifts with our children. Make this Halloween a time to honor our elders- send them a card, take them out to dinner or just say,” I love you”. Collect money, toys and food and give it to those who are more unfortunate as we count our blessings.