Halloween by Gerri Brousseau

Halloween is one of the world’s oldest holidays.  Some folklorists have detected its origins back to the Roman feast of Pomona (the goddess of fruits and seeds) or the
festival of the dead called Parentalia.  It is more typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain.  The name of the festival historically kept by the Gaels in Ireland is derived from Old Irish and means roughly “summer’s end.”

The word Halloween is first attested in the 16th century, and represents a Scottish variant of the fuller All-Hallows Even (Evening), the night before All Hallows Day.

The American tradition of carving pumpkins is recorded in
1837 and was originally associated with harvest time in general, not becoming specifically associated with Halloween until the mid-to-late 19th century.

The practice of dressing in costumes and begging door-to-door for treats on holidays dates back to the Middle Ages, and includes Christmas wassailing.  Trick-or-Treating resembles the late medieval practice of souling when poor folk would go door-to-door on Hallomas (November 1st), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2nd) originated in Ireland and Britain.

American Historian and author Ruth Edna Kelley (of Massachusetts) wrote the first book length history of the holiday in the U.S.  The Book of Hallowe’en (1919) and references souling in the chapter “Hallowe’en in America.”  Halloween is not celebrated by all countries or regions of the world.

After doing this research on Halloween, it occurred to me that the holiday, much like the United States, is a melting pot reflecting practices from many other countries.

Halloween, being one of my favorite holidays, enables us, no, encourages us, to don another persona.  Gives us permission to be caught up as a character that lives in another world, be it a world of fantasy, such as a fairy, or from a time long past, such as a prince.  We delight in becoming a witch or wizard, cowboy or Indian, vampire, werewolf, a princess, a pauper or a pirate, as we go door-to-door in quest of the sweet chocolate booty.

I have two pugs, and each year we dress up in costumes and
walk around our neighborhood visiting the trick-or-treaters.  The candy I carry in my plastic pumpkin is
given to those who stop to say hello to the costumed dogs.  They have been a devil and angel, a cheerleader and foot ball player, spider man and wonder woman, and lastly, I dressed them in pig costumes and on the side of one dog’s costume I wrote in black marker, “H1”, and on the other dog I wrote, “N1”, and they went out as the Swine Flu.  We have had a lot of fun, but unfortunately, this year, due to Milo having for the most part, lost of the use of his back legs, we will not be going out.  I think instead I will allow them to get into costumes and greet happy tricksters at the door.

What traditions do you practice on this fun holiday?  Do you give out candy?  Do you dress in costume?  What costume will you wear?  Do you have a costume party?  Venture into Nights of Passion, where paranormal creatures rule and share your wicked plans for All Hallows Eve …. if you dare.

About Susan Hanniford Crowley

Paranormal Romance, Fantasy, and Science Fiction Author
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9 Responses to Halloween by Gerri Brousseau

  1. Jennifer Iszkiewicz says:

    I love that you dressed the dogs up & walked around, passing out candy to the neighborhood kids, Ger! I hope dear little Milo gets as much joy greeting the trick or treaters at the door. Thanks for the fascinating info on the origins of Halloween.
    Traditions for me have changed over the years… starting out as a kid in Upstate NY with winter coats over our costumes (often snow this time of year) to getting all dressed up and scaring the kids ringing my bell. A particularly fun year was Halloween in Salem, MA – nothing like it!
    These days, the local kids are grown, so I prepare a festive meal for hubby & I – butternut squash risotto with garlic roasted chick is a fav – and settle in to my fav Halloween movies – lights off, candy at the ready!

    • Gerri Brousseau says:

      Hi Jennifer, Thanks for commenting and thank you for the well wishes for my little guy, Milo. I think putting him in a costume this year isn’t going to work, so he will be in charge of handing out the candy.
      Yum, butternut squash risotto … sounds delightful. What time is dinner?

    • Susannah Hardy says:

      Haha! Jennifer, that brought back a memory. I lived even farther north than you did and we also wore our winter coats and mittens over our costumes. Mom usually let us forego the hats because they would mess with our flimsy molded plastic face masks with the elastic on the back. But we often had to wear boots too. I’d say we looked ridiculous, but everybody did it.

  2. Susannah Hardy says:

    Gerri, great post! I love Halloween too. Be sure to post pictures of your pugs-in-disguise. Sorry Milo won’t be going out this year 😦

    • Gerri Brousseau says:

      Susannah, Thanks for commenting. The picture in the article is a pic of my babies. They are not getting dressed up this year because of Milo. I may dress Mimi, and if I do, I will post a pic.
      I was raised in CT and recall many times we had to wear winter coats over our costumes as well.

  3. Gail Ingis says:

    WOW! You have a good time on Halloween, especially your doggies. A few years ago we were invited to a big party. I dressed up like “Edith Wharton.” I won first prize of the night. Holy cow, I couldn’t believe it. But I savored my prize. Don’t ask, I cannot remember what it was. Probably a candy bar. Happy Halloween. We are celebrating my November 1st birthday on the eve of All Saints Day. Isn’t that a good way party on Halloween.

    • Gerri Brousseau says:

      Wow Gail … hope your b-day is spooktacular! I think you should wear the prize-winning costume again! Thanks for posting.

  4. Casey Wyatt says:

    Your pugs are so cute! I’ve always wanted a pug! Sadly my children are now too old for trick or treating and we live in an area where no one comes to our house (like maybe two kids). So last year, I pulled the plug on candy (because I was eating it all when no one showed to trick or treat). The closest to a party I get is the Sci-Fi book group I belong too dresses up. I plan to spend Halloween deciding if I’m ready to do NaNo this year!

    • Gerri Brousseau says:

      Hi Casey, Thank you so much for visiting NOP and for commenting. I’m trying to decide about NaNo too. I sure hope I get some trick or treaters or I’ll be eating all his candy. I wonder if I will still get zits from chocolate at my age!

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