Today’s offering is another post from 2009. A lot has happened since I wrote this. I no longer live in California, I’m not preparing for NaNoWriMo, and this year I’ll be dressed as a witch for at least one Halloween event. But not everything has changed. I still adore fall, and Halloween remains my favorite holiday.



I love autumn and every last one of the associated clichés: the chill in the air, the smell of wood smoke, the brilliant color, even the winds that whip, tear, and wreck havoc with Bay Area bridges and snarl traffic. But most of all I love Halloween. How can you not admire a holiday that offers the opportunity to be anything or anyone you want to be—even yourself?

As many of the day’s accoutrements suggest, Halloween started out as a pagan holiday, a celebration of summer’s end. The Popes Gregory (III and IV/8th & 9th c.) were disturbed by all the excess and plucked All Saints Day from the month of May, and brought it over as a substitute for pagan merrymaking. It worked for a while, Halloween and All Saints fell on the same day. But now we have Halloween, followed by All Saints, followed by All Souls, plus all the spectacular cultural distinctions like Día de los Muertos in Mexico and Undas in the Philippines.

But whether you celebrate October 31 as pagan Samhain, the Eve of All Saints (All Hallows Eve), Reformation Day, or just a fun secular holiday, Halloween offers something for everyone—which no doubt explains why the holiday is so commercially successful—second only to Christmas. Who knew?

As for me, I love to dress in costume. Long after I was too old to trick-or-treat, I still dressed up and knocked on doors with my nieces and nephews. I’ve worn costumes to parties, to work, even to greet trick-or-treaters. I thought about posting photos: VR as cowgirl, rock groupie, renaissance maid, can-can dancer, nurse. Fortunately I reeled myself in in time. For 2009, I plan to dress as a WriMo: a writer preparing for NaNoWriMo.

So, instead of photos, here is a bit of holiday trivia gleaned from sites around the web with a heavy emphasis on Wikipedia.

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Halloween trivia

👻 In 2004 candy corn was the most popular Halloween Candy. (Authors note: I’ve no idea how they determined this. It must refer to what folks were giving out or serving to guests. I know few self-respecting trick-or-treaters who would choose candy corn over chocolate.)

🎃 The first jack-o-lanterns were made out of turnips. Those Celts must have had really sharp knives.

👻 If you spot a spider on Halloween, be kind. It’s the spirit of someone near and dear watching over you.

🎃In 1995 Los Altos, California banned all Halloween festivities from schools because of the holiday’s pagan roots.

👻 More than 10% of pet owners dress their pets up for Halloween. I’ve tried this, but both dog and cat objected strenuously.

🎃 The two colors we associate with Halloween are black and orange. Orange represents the colors of fall while black represents death.

👻 The ancient Celts started the tradition of wearing masks and dressing up. They didn’t want to be recognized as human by the spirits that roamed the land. The border between the spirit world and our own grows very thin on October 31.

🎃 A fear* of Halloween is called samhainophobia.


*We invent what we love, and what we fear.
—John Irving


Are there other Halloween fans out there?

What do you love or hate about the holiday?

Anyone planning to dress up?