This one does! There is a lot to love about October, especially in Tucson. October is generally a comfortable month weather-wise. The best part of the month is that it ends in Halloween. It is by far and away my favorite holiday. Halfway between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice, Halloween was placed on top of an existing Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest and the beginning of winter. That celebration was called Samhain (pronounced SOW-in). It was a time of plenty, and is the Celtic “New Year.” In the pre-Christian Gaelic tradition well before refrigeration, the custom was to bring the cattle in from the summer fields, take stock, and slaughter many of the animals. It was logical and efficient due to the fact that food for the herd would be in short supply and winter’s cooler weather would allow meat to be stored without spoilage. Many animals were killed and that may have led to the Samhain being the “festival of the dead.” With so much killing being done in such a short period of time, it was thought that the membrane that separates the living from the dead was most easily broached during Samhain.
Any festival involving feasts and alcohol is destined to be a popular one. The Roman Catholics had a celebration of the saints that was introduced in the year 609. It was originally celebrated on the 13th of May but Pope Gregory IV moved it to November 1st in 835. The celebration of All Saints’ Day is quite different and unrelated to Samhain except that due to papal fiat they now occur on the same day. Halloween derives its modern name from “All Hallows’ Eve” or the eve before All Saints’ Day. As a Roman Catholic, I remember that the first of November was a “Holy Day of Obligation” which meant I had to go to church. There is much discussion on the Internet about Samhain and Halloween. Not all of it can be believed. In some articles, the “spiritual” aspect of the holiday is blamed on the Christian influence while the Celtic origins and traditions are less “ghostly.” Other articles accuse the pagans and blame them for the “occult” aspects of Halloween. In one article apparently written by a Roman Catholic, “Should Catholics Celebrate Halloween?”, the author advises the recitation of a specific prayer and reminding the participants that Catholics believe in the reality of evil before celebrating the traditions of the holiday.
I love Halloween. While its origins may or may not have been religious, it is a fun secular holiday now. Trick or Treat ended for me at the age of 12 but I’ve enjoyed the giving aspect since that time. It’s great to see the excited happy kids of various ages dressed in the different costumes. Over the years, I’ve attempted to add to the fun by fabricating Halloween props. The most fun is occurs when the props are built from repurposed items. At the age of 13 I created my first Halloween prop. It was very simple. It was a model railroad transformer hooked to a loudspeaker. The speaker was in the garden and the switch to the transformer was located near the candy bowl. Switching on the unregulated transformer made the loudspeaker buzz. It was loud and startling and fun! However, my favorite prop for many years, over 30, was the “Talking Pumpkin.” I got the idea from my friend’s father. He had a pumpkin outside his house with a hidden speaker and a solenoid that could be switched on to make the arms move. He would look out of his window and talk to the kids from his hidden position. I stole the idea and put a pumpkin near the front of the house with a hidden speaker. Instead of having moving parts, I added a voice modulated light bulb in the pumpkin. It worked great and got the desired response. Kids would come up to the pumpkin and tell him how the night was going. The pumpkin would complement the kids on their costumes and note how scary they were. There were times when the kids would return later in the night just to chat.
Since my retirement, the number and variety of Halloween props have increased greatly but the pumpkin still makes his appearance, and kids that used to come are now older and still chat with the pumpkin.
Apparently, I’m not the only one that loves Halloween. Check out this article from Better Homes and Gardens!