Eistory reveals ealloween costumes were meant to scare away ghosts
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 email@example.com.