Last year I started NaNoWriMo by writing the first few hundred words of something that was supposed to be a horror story. I ended up dropping it after a few days, partly because I did not want to get inside the main character’s head.
Yes, it is possible to scare yourself.
You know that point when you must look over your shoulder to make sure no one is standing behind you with a very large knife or a noose? Yes? A secretly murderous six your old protagonist stuck in an alternate reality was just not for November of 2014. (I intend on picking it back up at some point, eventually.) I know, I know, why are you starting this post with a story about last year?
Well, this is the month of Halloween.
Last year, I spent most of October doing research for that story, and I ended up spending a large amount of time learning about Halloween. Or, as it is more traditionally called, Samhain.
As an introduction to Halloween….
Did I mention that I like to research the origins of holidays?
Samhain was originally a Pagan holiday, largely based in Ireland, which could be compared to the Mexican Dia de Muertos. It was the change of seasons and the beginning of the new year; it was the time for sheep to be brought back from the fields. What changed? Ireland was taken over by the Christians.
Of course, the Christians did not want the people of their new country to be worshiping their own gods, and so they turned Samhain or All Hallows’ Eve into something to be feared. The original holiday was a time for the ghosts of the dead to visit; this included the ghosts of family.
People would set out candles so that the ghosts would know where to go and put an extra place setting at the table for their beloved. There were always bad ghosts as well, but Samhain most certainly did not focus on them. Eventually, the meaning of October 31 first changed and masks became a way to ward off the evil spirits that might mean you harm. Jack O’ lanterns showed up at some point, and Samhain was set aside.
The origins of holidays are often twisted with multiple meanings. Thankfully, everyone can choose what they would like to celebrate nowadays.
Funny Fact: Pumpkins originated in America. Jack O’ lanterns were usually carved in turnips or other root vegetables. It seems as though Jack O’ lanterns were made popular by the pumpkins that the settlers of ‘The New World’ found. Blame the pumpkin for October’s obsession with orange.
How are you celebrating Halloween or one of it’s many forms?
I baked a batch of chocolate cupcakes, and now I am trying very hard not to worry about NaNoWriMo.
Before I end this post and in the fashion of the beginning of the next month… I present a quote for the month: “Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut
Happy Halloween everyone! And a Happy Fall as well!