Ghosts of Halloweens past
Currently, Halloween is a deprived holiday, though its origins still remain, as in prayer, “Hallowed be thy name,” or in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, “…we cannot hallow this ground”
Or even now as we’re about to celebrate “Halloween,” “een” being the short form for “evening,” and “hallowed,” another word for “holy.”
And Oct. 31 is the “holy evening” this year, the day before “All Saints,” when all holy souls have defeated the demons worldwide and are celebrated worldwide in the church. It is also the sign of the moving seasons, times starting to rotate again, and recalling how Celts believed the world was alive with spirits in everything.
But now Halloween is just part of the national economy, the seasonally significant one, where small fortunes are both made and misspent on candy and masks and costumery. But culturally, it’s still deprived.
I love going to see the South Washington spectacle with all those fearsome and outsized things. But it’s a tourist attraction now instead of a reminder.
I love seeing the children about in the night reminding us they’re only appeased by the candy. But this holiday is not cultural anymore. It’s just about making money.
A few years ago, a child in my neighborhood told me he wished he lived in another neighborhood where the grown-ups gave out candy. I tried to explain that $20 for candy just wasn’t possible when that money was needed for food (for five in that family).
So after we talked, I went out and got some to leave in my mailbox for Halloween the next day. I told him it would be there at 6 p.m. So he and his friends came back the next day at the set-upon hour and raided my mailbox while I was gone. I thought they would surely leave me a piece. But zilch, nada, nothing. I knew they wouldn’t leave me a piece.
Grown-ups in my neighborhood, not knowing our arrangement, came to rescue my porch from the hordes. They didn’t know, but quickly found out the children had to be there at 6 p.m.
How else would they know if I hadn’t told them?
But my favorite Halloween display of all time comes each year from my neighbor, Coach Stevens. It’s also his favorite holiday of the year. No matter all of his football victories; no matter The Board of Education where he serves.
Every year, without fail, he puts up and turns on an outside display for the children. And me. We look for it from the first of October. And he and his wife, Linda, distribute the candy from their home and elsewhere in the ‘hood.
Those hallowed spirits are alive and well in Vicksburg, thanks to them. But can you imagine the courage it takes to say that this is your favorite holiday of all? And always has been. It’s not for the “big” boys and girls, though, who only want to commandeer candy. Theirs is for the children on Halloween. When the word still meant “Halloween.”
Yolande Robbins is a community columnist for The Vicksburg Post.