Halloween, the great America tradition, when everyone, young and old, enjoys getting at least a little scared and revels in a little mystery. The night when beggars prowl the streets seeking candy and perhaps a little fright. It’s the only time of year when teens and adults will pay good money to have their pants scared off them at a thousand haunted houses around the country.
An argument can be made that the greatest scares on this night arise from chainsaw killers and raving monsters, blood sucking vampires and howling werewolves or even terrifying aliens. While I admit each and every one of these can set the blood curdling, I’d submit that’s not what Halloween is about, not really.
What we celebrate as Halloween was originally know as All Hallowed Eve. (Well, okay, it actually dates back to an ancient Celtic celebration called Samhain and a Roman holiday, Feralia, both of which were incorporated over the centuries into the Christian All Hallowed Eve.) All Hallowed Eve, later Halloween, was the day Christians honored those who have passed and, on this day, they acknowledged sometimes the dead are still with us. While the traditions of these celebrations differed from culture to culture—for example, the Romans brought offerings to graves and the Celts were required to sacrifice some of their children (yikes!)—the one thread that runs through all three celebrations is the steadfast belief in ghosts. The Celts, the Romans and the early Christians understood there is but a thin veil that separates this world from the next. This autumnal feast, halfway between the end of harvest and the winter solstice, was the day spirits from the other side chose to cross this veil and visit the living.
According to legends, some of these ghosts were friendly, if sometimes mischievous, while others were angry, malevolent and even violent. But those humans celebrating Samhain or Feralia or All Hallowed Eve/Halloween knew that they ignored these visiting spirits at their peril and knew they needed to honor the ghosts.
So while Dracula or Freddie or Ironman might make better costumes for this year’s Halloween celebration—I mean, how do you dress like a ghost anyway—you would do well not to ignore the spirits roaming among us. They require us to honor them and the dead who have gone, because all too soon we will join them.
Oh, by the way, I thought I saw something shimmering behind you.
Happy Halloween! You might want to celebrate the holiday by learning about ghosts reading my Haunted Shores Mysteries, #1 BLOOD ON THE CHESAPEAKE (which is also a #1 Amazon Best Seller) #2 CRIMSON AT CAPE MAY and #3 SCARLET AT CRYSTAL RIVER.