Día de los Muertos is approaching. So is Halloween. In Mexico, the holiday is a time when families welcome back the souls of their deceased relatives for a brief reunion that includes food, drink and celebration.
At midnight Oct. 31, the gates of heaven are opened and spirits of children rejoin their families for 24 hours. The spirits of adults can do the same on Nov. 2.
It is a festive time of music, dance and feasts as deceased loved ones are honored and welcomed back.
We Americans like to make things as scary as possible around Halloween and try to terrify each other with spooky witches and ghouls. Heck, we do not want any ghosts coming around us.
Actually, I prefer to focus on the candy aspect of Halloween. This year Americans will spend $2 billion on confection and another $5 billion on decorations.
You might see cute little kids in your neighborhood all dressed up in costumes. That tradition goes back to the medieval times, when poor adults and children went around in costumes during “Hallowmas,” the Autumn holiday which included folks begging for food and money in exchange for prayers. This annual routine was called “souling” and was brought to America by the Irish early in the 20th century.
The idea of walking around asking for candy completely went away during WWII when sugar was rationed, but by 1952 trick-or-treating was hugely popular again. And it has been ever since. Even with fears (mostly unfounded) about kids getting razor blades stuck in their candy, children going house to house asking complete strangers for candy is one big American tradition.
Doesn’t a bloody mary sound good? Oops, no I mean to talk about the ghost of Bloody Mary. Evidently, on Oct. 31 each year, she will appear if you stare into a mirror in a darkened room by the light of 13 candles and chant “Bloody Mary” 13 times. Don’t do it! The vengeful spirit might appear at your left shoulder and will either kill you or make you insane.
Have you decorated yet? About 70% of Americans will decorate their homes for Halloween with everything from pumpkins to hanging skeletons from trees. You get the picture — lots of black cats, witches, devils, demons, ghosts and jack-o’-lanterns out there to set the mood. Our habit of lighting up pumpkins dates back centuries when the thought was that ghouls and ghosts hate light. So, a pumpkin placed at your door, with a candle flickering inside, would keep away any restless spirits flying around that might land at your house.
No wonder we like to eat candy on Halloween! We must comfort ourselves in our fight against the witches, ghosts and vengeful spirits that might come to our doorstep! So, get ready! Carve a pumpkin, light a candle, drink a bloody mary (do not chant for her spirit), enjoy the decorations, avoid demons and start eating candy right now.
Boo! The scariest day of all is coming soon. Witching you a very haunted week.
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