Dear Halloween, Where Did You Go?

Dear Halloween,

I know the fall of 2012 has been pretty rotten, and I understand people neglecting you a little bit this year, but you feel more wraith-like than normal. Yes, Hurricane Sandy has a very large shadow, and many of our thoughts and prayers are justifiably on the East Coast (and parts of the Midwest), but I thought you’d be getting at least a little attention by now. Last year over 160 million people celebrated your ghostly goodness and spent billions and billions of dollars while doing so. You are usually a pretty big deal, this year not so much.

I’m sure the Presidential Horror Show has played a role. Even before Hurricane Sandy things didn’t feel very Halloweeny out. Perhaps we don’t need you to scare us this year since our politicians are currently doing such a good job of it. I’ll admit to my liberal bias, but I’ll also admit that my Presidential choice comes down to mostly being truly frightened of the other guy. Who needs a Haunted House when we have Super-Pacs? I guess more people vote than celebrate your big day (though not by much), but time for one shouldn’t preclude time for the other.

Perhaps I annually visit your doorstep with too much awe. We have a pet name for you in my house Halloween, and that name’s Samhain. For us you aren’t just a day for plastic masks and candy, you are a sabbat, a holy day on our calendar. We celebrate you spiritually and secularly, thought not always on the same day. I know it’s confusing, but we love you so much that we called you Samhain Friday and Saturday and will do so again this weekend. Yeah we’ll celebrate you the day most other people do too, on the 31st, but not with prayers and tears, but with jack-o-lanterns and (fake) spiders on our porch. We love every little last bit of you, to the thinning of the veil to the caramel covered apples in our kitchen. You’re such a big presence in our lives that it’s always weird when so many people in our lives seem to ignore you.

This is my first year at Patheos and you don’t seem to be on anyone’s radar here. The front page of the website has articles on Sandy, the Presidential Race, Islam, Rick Santorum, and the TV shows Survivor (barf) and Grey’s Anatomy (double barf, though that last show is kind of scary). There is one article on telling spooky stories, but nothing about the rich traditions that you’ve got, traditions that are both Christian and Pagan! Of course I don’t have to tell you that Halloween, you know what you’ve got, and that you don’t flaunt it as much as Christmas does is a credit to you. Honestly, I would have expected you to at least piss someone off in the Evangelical Channel (I love it when you do that!), but even that didn’t happen this year. They are too busy discussing Romney’s Mormon faith and job creation (seriously on the last one), they really need you now more than ever over there!

The front page of the Pagan Channel isn’t much better. We’ve got articles on politics (and I’ll admit to being guilty of writing some of those too, but I’ve tried hard to balance it out with lots of stuff about you!), and spicing up the bedroom (though Mrs. B has written about you too!), not much about you and you are supposed to be our favorite sabbat! We’ve lost a lot of traffic and a lot of blogs over here so it’s not a huge surprise, but I still expected a little bit more, there’s so much to you.

Unlike most holidays you are so multifaceted! You always inspire me to do some of my best ritual writing of the year, and even the ones I don’t write are pretty swell. You are kind of hard to mess up us a Pagan spiritual thing-spirits and the final harvest-BOOM! The rituals practically write themselves. The parties are fun too. When I lived in Michigan I used to have some big ones, and those were good times. I liked the costumes, the debauchery, the kegs of hard cider. Remember the year I got that Raspberry Cider? One of the best nights of my life and I owe that all to you buddy. I like the stuff we’ve added to your legacy too. A nice cup of warm (and non-alcoholic) cider on a cool evening, and snacking on pumpkin and pomegranate seeds. You are more than just candy, you always bring some of my favorite food to the Bacchanalia roaring in the back-room. (I do have to ask though, and I don’t mean to be Jerry Seinfeld or anything, but what’s the deal with candy corn? Did you lose a bet with your sister Easter for worst holiday candy ever?)

I knew we were in trouble a few weeks ago when Target aired a Christmas commercial during your episode of The Simpsons. I know your brother tries to start earlier and earlier every year, but early October? He usually waits until at least Columbus Day. The economy gets a little bit better and he comes out with bells on even earlier than usual. Unbelievable. Speaking of Target they were dismantling your stuff over the weekend and putting up more of your brother’s junk. At least you don’t get treated as shabbily as Thanksgiving, there’s always that.

I know I’ve been rambling a lot today, but we’ve been friends for such a long time that I have trouble imagining you’d get mad at me for it. (Remember when I dressed up as Ace Frehley of KISS for you all those years ago? That was awesome!) What I’m saying is that we really need you this year, because a lot of this fall has been pretty rotten. I know I’m asking you to basically swoop in on a skeletal ghost-horse while leading the Wild Hunt, but I think most of us need a chance to get our minds off the election and Frankenstorm Sandy. You are always good for a laugh (more so than Christmas, your big brother might be more popular but he’s also stress inducing!) and you’ve always balanced that out well with those moments of spiritual reflection. Even when I was a kid you were great about that, you could make me reflective while I was wearing a werewolf mask, you are so under-rated sometimes.

Anyways, I know it’s kind of last minute, but I’m hoping you do something spectacular tomorrow. Scare us, entertain us, thrill us, and enlighten us. It’s asking a lot I know, but you usually seem up for it. Give my friends on the East Coast something to smile about, and the rest of us a break from polls and predictions. Despite Target, you still have a lot of fans, and we all love you too! Thanks for all you do for us.

Best,

-jason

About Jason Mankey

Jason Mankey has been involved with Paganism for the last twenty years, and has spent the last ten of those years as a speaker, writer, and High Priest. Jason can often be found lecturing on the Pagan Festival circuit, so you might just bump into him. When not reading and researching Pagan history he likes to crank up the Led Zeppelin, do rituals in honor of Jim Morrison (of The Doors), and sing numerous praises to Pan, Dionysus, and Aphrodite. He lives in Sunnyvale CA with his wife Ari and two hyper-kinetic cats.

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    It is a very good point you raise.

    Why is it that so few active Pagans spend so little time openly celebrating their sacred rites?

    Call it Samhain, Winterfylleþ, or whatever, many traditions have a major seasonal celebration at these times. Why can’t it be shared with everyone the same way that Christ’s Mass is?

    • Lilith BlackDragon

      Because if, like me, you live in the American South, the very mention of the word “Halloween” is offensive to many people.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        I live in the Westcountry of England, so it may be difficult for me to understand the cultural differences, but why worry about offending people?

        Should they be any more offended by a public display of Pagan religious observance (such as celebrating Samhain) than I get by a public display of Christian religious observance (such as building churches everywhere and ringing the bells every bloody week?)

  • http://www.facebook.com/nicole.platania Nicole Parsons Platania

    I have to admit that my Halloween spirit has been less this year than any other year. That makes me sad because it is my favourite holiday. Maybe if we all work together and get in the spirit we can help Halloween be all it is meant to be tomorrow night. I think I will dress up for work tomorrow, to help things along. Halloween, we love you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/gwion.raven Gwion Raven

    Hello Jason and Halloween,
    I like you both, a great deal. I’ve had a drink or two with each of you on the odd occasion, although never at the same time.
    I tend to be exceptionally busy at Samhain-tide and find that I extend your celebrations out over many days, weeks even. There are public Samhain rituals I attend and help create, there’s the growing call for interfaith work, where those curious “others” want to know what we REALLY do at this time and yes, there’s the handing out candy, dressing up as a slutty pumpkin and making bat shaped cookies too.
    It’s after Samhain that I like the best, that calm, dark, interior place I get to inhabit through Yule and into Brigidtide.
    Thank you Samhain (And Jason too!)
    Gwion

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kate-Barlow/100001236220704 Kate Barlow

    Best Greetings Jason and Halloween!
    I feel refreshed. I haven’t had the time, and in some respects the energy, for the Samhain I would have liked this year. It’s so good to read this and have the moment just for the celebration.
    Thank you!
    Kate


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