‘Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world. ~William Shakespeare
You know, there are always some that think negatively upon Halloween and then there are others who take it to extremes. And when I say extremes, I mean in a sadistic, not so positive way. I always liked Halloween. I enjoyed the challenge of being creative with costume ideas and I especially liked making them. Even when I was at Sacred Heart, we were allowed to dress up, have our own school parade, and have a Halloween party. The nuns never dressed up, but they enjoyed watching the creativity and eclectic mix of costumes. You see, they were never opposed to Halloween, especially when we dressed up as Saints. Probably because they had faith that they taught us what the holiday really meant. They knew we were aware of the feast of All Saints Day, the celebration of those who have passed. A time to pray for those loved ones who have departed this life into eternity. It’s also symbolic of acknowledging that evil does exist as much as good.
Things are so different now. Please indulge me for a moment and take a step back with me to reminisce about my Halloween days. When we were growing up, we lived in a rural area. We didn’t have a neighborhood of people to trick or treat. Every year, either my mom or my cousin Karen would pile all of us, including my cousins, in the car and take us up on the ridge to visit family to get our share of the Halloween goodies. Looking back on it now, I loved trick or treating. Not only did we get candy, but we also got to visit family. And the best part was driving to get there and getting back home. We would go when it was dark and driving up the ridge through the trees during Halloween was priceless!! It really got you in the spirit of the season, pardon the pun. When we stopped at my Uncle Ray and Aunt Clemmy’s house, Uncle Ray would make us homemade potato chips in the barn. They were so fresh we would have to wait for the chips to cool down before snacking. Then we would go down the road to visit more family, eventually hitting my grandparents, my cousins grandparents, cousins and close friends of the families. There was no special day we would trick or treat. Whenever it was most convenient, mom would just give a call to a few houses to spread the word that we were heading up.
The Wednesday before Halloween was the Youngstown’s Parade. It was so much fun to line up in the parking lot of Sacred Heart School and Church getting ready to walk the Main Street. The fire trucks were lit up and the end always resulted in more treats.
Later on, to keep the Halloween tradition alive, without being childish, we would go bagging. Now it was not a common thing to do, as I later found out. I assumed everyone knew what bagging was but, alas, it must have been a Latrobe thing. You see, bagging usually happened with preteens/teenagers. It was a way to have safe Halloween fun and still collect the annual candy funds. When I was younger, when you went to the grocery store, you always received brown paper bags to carry your groceries. Usually they were recycled into covers for school books or trash bags but, at Halloween, they were used for bagging. Everyone in your group dressed incognito, usually all black, and we would decorate the bags as desired. The design was always accompanied with a message, something like “Please feed these hungry ghosts” or “Leave us a Treat”. Then what you would do is sneak up on someone’s front porch, leave the bags facing the front door, ring the door bell and run and hide in the bushes. Then the person at the front door was supposed to drop candy into the bags. However, baggers would usually get strange items like toothpaste or batteries. I think I got a rock before. Anyway, that also made it fun to tell people about the treats received. Sometimes the trick or treatee would steal your bag. But, if you were smart, you would bring back-up. And sometimes, the trick or treatee would wait for the trick or treaters to retrieve their bags and then jump out at them and chase them off the porch. It was actually a lot of fun and would give us stories to tell for the next month or so.
Ah yes the good old Halloween fun. The time when all the world’s a stage and you write your own story. What’s your story?
Have a happy Halloween!