Eis­tory re­veals eal­loween cos­tumes were meant to scare away ghosts

Times Chronicle - - OPINION -

The last day of Oc­to­ber brings back mem­o­ries that will never be for­got­ten. On Oct. 31I 1UVOI Arthur Co­nan Doyle first pub­lished “The Ad­ven­tures of Sher­lock eolmes.” On Oct. 31I 1V41I con­struc­tion ended in South Dakota af­ter 14 years in which 4MM work­ers had carved SM-foot tall gran­ite like­nesses of four pres­i­dents on Mount Rush­more: Ge­orge Wash­ing­tonI Thomas Jef­fer­sonI Theodore Roo­sevelt and Abra­ham Lin­coln. But more im­por­tant than all that is the ob­ser­vance of eal­loween ev­ery Oct. 31.

On eal­loweenI if you want to send the kids out be­fore it gets darkI do so by sun­set which oc­curs at 5:5V p.m. in our area when night creeps over the neigh­bor­hoods. heep in mind that the last day of Oc­to­ber is one sec­ond shorter than the day be­fore. It is dif­fi­cult to pre­dict whether it will be cold for “trick-or-treat­ing.” If we look back over re­cent yearsI in OM11 the tem­per­a­ture dropped to 35 de­greesI in OM1M it reached a min­i­mum of 3V de­grees and in OMMV a balmy low of 51 de­grees. Par­ents will have to de­cide whether their trick-or­treaters should wear a heavy sweater un­der the cos­tume. The chances of rain are min­i­mal. Of our 1O months in the Philadel- phia areaI Oc­to­ber has the most clear days at 11.

eal­loween was brought to Amer­ica by Ir­ish im­mi­grants in the 1U4MsI but it orig­i­nated sev­eral thou­sand years ago with the an­cient Celtic fes­ti­val of Samhain. This was a hol­i­day when the world that we are fa­mil­iar with and the su­per­nat­u­ral world seemed to in­ter­act with each other. On eal­loweenI the souls of the dead re­turn to their homes KRSLnJ WR finG ERGLHV WR SRVVHVV. It was thought that hav­ing large ERn­fiUHV wRuOG NHHS WKH VSLULWV away. The Celts lived in Ire­landI the United hing­domI FranceI PolandI Cen­tral Europe and north­ern Italy. Their priests were the Druids andI at that timeI the Celts would wear cos­tumes and build KuJH ERn­fiUHV PDNLnJ VDFUL­fiFHV to the Celtic gods.

eal­loween is an un­usual hol­i­day be­cause it hon­ors the dead. The pur­pose of the cos­tumes was to scare ghosts away. Ac­cord­ing to the CeltsI on the night of Oct. 31I the ghosts of the dead re­turn to Earth. This is the last time the dead can get some re­venge be­fore they move on to the next world. All this was tak­ing place on the evening be­fore the Western Chris­tian feast of All eal­lows.

eav­ing such an un­usual hol­i­day when the dead re­turn makes us won­der how many dead peo­ple have been buried on our planet. Es­ti­mates re­ported by the Pop­u­la­tion Ref­er­ence Bureau in­di­cate that 1MU bil­lion peo­ple have lived and died on our planet VLnFH WKH fiUVW KuPDnV wHUH KHUH. At pre­sentI 1MT peo­ple die ev­ery min­uteI 153IMMM die each day and 5S mil­lion die a year. Sur­pris­ing­lyI S.5 per­cent of all peo­ple who have been born are alive to­day. It must be em­pha­sized that wars are re­spon­si­ble for huge num­bers of deaths. World War I re­sulted in 3T mil­lion deaths in­clud­ing both mil­i­tary and civil­ianI while World War II had a to­tal of SO mil­lion to TU mil­lion deathsI in­clud­ing mil­i­tary and civil­ian.

eal­loween marked the time when it was an end of the har­vest and the be­gin­ning of win­ter. Ac­tu­al­lyI it must have been very crowded here on Earth with all those spir­its of the dead re­turn­ing. One may be left to won­der LI WKHy VKDUHG Ln WKH SUR­fiWV IURP the sale of eal­loween cos­tumes.

Dr. Mil­ton Fried­man can be reached at tcgn@mont­gomerynews.com.

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