Monday, September 30, 2013

Memories of Halloween - 3 of 3

Memories of Halloween

Times have really changed since I was a child.  Way back then…, Halloween was about plastic masks, cut up bed sheets, candy, and cartoon specials on the TV.  Now, its about how sexy can you be, how much trouble can you cause, and still…candy (thank goodness!).  Don’t get me wrong, I did my share of TP’ing as a child, but I never stole candy from children, nor did I sit in wait to scary the crap out of unsuspecting children out for the candy beg, or beat them up in the process.  I also would not have been allowed out of the house in some of the outfits that pass as costumes today.  WOW…why can’t they just be children for a while?  Why do they have to be sexy costumes?  Not just dress up like a bee, but a sexy bee.  Wonder Woman is now sexy Wonder Woman.  Vampires?  Sexy…and on and on it goes.  I don’t get girls anymore.  The point of dressing up, as you now know if you read my previous posts, is to scare away the spirits, not to show off your behind or chest for the members of the opposite sex.  Some of my costumes were of the sad variety, but everyone’s were back then.  Parents didn’t have the money or maybe the desire to shell $45 a year for a one-night event.  We used boxes and painted them up like the Rubic’s cube.  We cut up old sheets to be ghosts.  We got a $3 mouse nose, to match with a brown shirt and pants.  A black leo with painted on whiskers and construction paper ears.  That was Halloween. Half the fun was coming up with and putting into action a costume.  Ok, consumerism, and sexification of our youth rant over.  Moving on.

One of my favorite traditions to this day, is cutting and creating Jack-o-Lanters.  As a child it was the ole triangle eyes, nose, and jagged mouth.  Today, it’s an incredible feat, hours in the making.  I love the finished product of the candle lit from within.  It makes a nice festive moment of darkness and light.  It’s creepy and yet lovely all at the same time.  Yes, pumpkins are a favorite. 

One of the other moments of the Halloween season that I really look forward to, are the horror movies!  October hits and all the scary movies you can think of can be found on channel after channel and full of gore, fear, and death.  I love this time of year!  I am sure the Stephen King marathon will be coming on soon.  I will be losing sleep over it.  Who can go to sleep when at 2 a.m. CUJO is coming on?  Or Salem’s Lot!  Yes, the best thing about the season is all the horror flicks.  I love them!  (FYI I just checked and… AMC is starting their Stephen King Marathon right now!  It goes through the 11th of October. Yes!)

The last item on my list of Halloween Tradition favorites…the CANDY.  What would Halloween be without Sixlets, or Oh Henry bars, a bag full of tootsie rolls?  Thankfully my children were always very nice to me and shared their candy horde.  It’s a good thing, as I would have had to lower myself to stealing it from them.  Hey, I bought the stupid costume, took them around in the frozen rain (It’s Ohio, it always rains on Halloween or snows.) through numb toes, and frozen ears.  I deserve a Milky Way!  I do!

So what are your plans for the event of the year?  You better hurry up and figure it out, I saw Christmas trees in the aisles this past weekend.  They may just chuck out all the Halloween fun and fill it with elves and such before the end of the month.  You could miss out if you don’t decide soon.  You may not like it, but you know I’m right all the same. Ha!

Happy October!  I love this month!


Monday, September 23, 2013

Halloween Traditions - 2 of 3

Halloween Continued…

Apparently this is more of a boring topic than I anticipated, but I like the Halloween history and traditions, so I am pushing forward with my series.  I know, it should be more about the reader, but since I have to write it, I have to at least have some interest in the subject.  Besides, how can you NOT like Halloween? 

This week we start out with the Christian traditions.  Halloween comes from All Hallows Eve, which is the day that the Christians spent honoring the dead and the old saints.  It is considered a Holy Day of Obligation.  One way they honored the dead was by ringing bells.  Why bells are honoring, I don’t know.  Maybe in the past, it was more a gesture, than the sound.  That I can understand.

The traditions we see today, the dressing up and ringing of doorbells, getting treats or gifts, all come from a mixture of old traditions as you can see.  It wasn’t until the Irish and Scottish immigrants began to make their way to America that the real celebrations began to take effect.  Their stories of magic and otherworldly creatures livened up the events, so to speak.  Thank you Irish and Scottish immigrants. 

Moving on to The Chinese traditions.  They hold the Festival of Hungry Ghosts (Yue Lan).  Instead of dressing in costumes to hide from the evil spirits, they would give gifts to provide them comfort in hopes of making them go back where they belong.

In Japan, they celebrate the Bon Festival, which is a Buddhist Holiday to honor the deceased ancestors.  They have out-door festivals to celebrate.  They all visits the graves of their families in order to clean them and show them respect and honor.  Then at sunset they light lanterns and put them in bodies of waters, to float away.  It’s a symbolic gesture of the spirits returning to the otherworld once again. 

Romanians, however, have one of my favorite celebrations.  They celebrate the story of Dracula.  Woo Hoo!  It says they “believe” as in the present tense, that he still comes to haunt the towns from time to time.  He stays in the area because he likes the environment where so many of the witch trials took place.  Creepy!  Yet, fantastic as well. 

To be continued…. Next week I will be discussing my own favorites in the Halloween Traditions.  Have  great week everyone.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

Halloween - Part 1

I know it’s only September, but Halloween is on my mind.  It is one of those holidays that is actually fun.  Not much stress involved, but loads of fun for the taking.  I thought for today I would go back and do a series on customs and such that are a big part in making up the event, as we know it today. 

Part 1:

The original source of our Halloween came from pagan tradition.  Yes, there are some that believe the Christian celebration of Halloween was first, from what I can tell, the Pagans have them beat.  These pagan festivals honored the gods of fruits, such as the Roman Pomona. Not so much scary in that and reminds me of the Celtic festivals.  Another pagan tradition is the festival of Parentalia, which is believed to honor the deceased. 

This brings me to the Celtics, who had the festival of Samhain.  This marked the end of summer and the harvest. They held bonfires, which were to provide light for those bringing in livestock from the fields or mountains to be slaughtered for winter. The Celts believe that on Samhain, the door to the underworld would open, letting in spirits, both good and bad. They would have a great feast that would include them setting a place for any deceased relatives, just in case they came to visit on that day. The bad and the evil spirits entered the earthly realm as well on this day. The people would dress up in costumes, in order to confuse the evil spirits.  This custom later entailed visiting houses while in costume, to collect food for the feast.  Sound familiar? 

Other legends associated with Samhain, are due to the belief that the underworld opened on that day.  Such as the idea and belief that body parts of those who had died during the last year would become animated on that day, and could possess the living. Many Celtics would also extinguish all lights and fires inside of their homes, so that it was purposely very cold and dark.  Therefore, spirits would not be drawn there.

This brings me to Pumpkins.  They were carved in order to light the paths at night and protect people from the evil spirits. The carved pumpkin’s namesake, Jack-o-lantern, comes from the legend of a boy named Jack, who paraded through town with a pumpkin in which he’d trapped the devil. The devil then cursed Jack upon his release and condemned him to spend forever in hell. Thereafter, when the gates open on Halloween, Jack would escape from Hell and wreak havoc upon the town. The Jack-o-Lanterns were supposed to trick Jack into thinking they held the devil in them, and scare him off.  This is a new one for me.  I didn’t know the origin of the Jack-o-Lantern.

To be continued….

Monday, September 9, 2013

Stephen King - On Writing

As most of my regulars know, I grew up on Stephen King books.  The gore, the thrill, the what the heck wildness of his books.  Then somewhere along the way, I grew tired of them.  Maybe it was simply that I had grown up and got to busy for them.  Maybe it was the change in my taste from horror to historical.  Either way, I stopped reading him. 

Then this book came out several years ago.  Now being a writer, you’d think I would have jumped at the book.  I didn’t.  No real reason, again.  It was partly, from the lack of desire to get back into his books.  And it was partly due to the remarks here and there he had about other authors or want-to-be authors.  I found it rude at times and hurtful at others even though he wasn’t talking about me.  (Note:  Please, Stephen King, don’t read my books and then drudge them through the dirt.  I don’t have the thick skin you need in this industry.  I’m getting there, yes.  However, my feelings are still tender.)  I felt for the likes of Stephanie Myers, VC Andrews and now, James (Fifty Shades of uck).  I get what he is says and I agree in some aspects, but geez man, do you have to be so…mean?

Therefore, I wasn’t all that keen to spend what little book money I had for the year on this book.  However, it was again and again thrown at me.  “You have to read this!”  “He writes like you.”  What?  Like me how?  “Yes, he doesn’t like to outline.  He goes with the story.”  On and on, this book was in my face and in my way. 

I bought it.  In soft cover so that I could make notes, just in case I wanted to (I did, darn it all!)  It is not a sit down and devour type of book.  Just isn’t.  You have to take it in a bit at a time and really think about what he is saying.  I took about 3 weeks to get through it.  After the first section, I read a chapter or two a day, then processed. 

So what did I think?  I think it was wonderful.  I can’t believe how much I got out of his book on writing.  Who knew?  The first section is background, and story telling of his past and I loved it.  The second part was really about getting to it; how to get to it; and what to do to get there.  It was without all the mumbo jumbo you usually find out there in the writer books.  It was straight forward, to the point, and as usual, direct.  It was a great read and a book I will no doubt come back to again and again.  I can’t believe I put off reading it all this time.  If you are a fiction writer, or think you want to become a fiction writer, buy the book.  It is useful. 

Darn you, Stephen King!  You got me again.  Thank you for that.  I missed ya.