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The ghosts come out on Halloween

Earlier last week a fun discussion heavily laden with banter took place between the pharmacy staff at one of Madera’s chain drugstores. The question being of whether or not today is a holiday? Me being the nosey, but-in-ski person I am, joined the conversation completely uninvited. One of the clerks, with a twinkle in her eye, insisted Halloween is a holiday. The other people participating in the exchange all maintained it is not a holiday.

Since it is not the type of paid holiday our government embraces on either the state or federal level, the schools and banks are open. All evidence to the contrary, Halloween really is a holiday, a really old holiday.

According to The History Channel “Halloween is an annual holiday, celebrated each year on Oct. 31 that has roots in old European traditions. It originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated Nov. 1 as a time to honor all saints; soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before is known as All Hallows Eve, and later (it became) Halloween. Over time, Halloween (has) evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating and carving jack-o-lanterns. Around the world (Northern Hemisphere), as days grow shorter and nights get colder, people continue to usher in the season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.”

So not only is Halloween a holiday, it is a holy day.

Ghosts, witches and various monsters can roam the streets on Halloween night and fade into the crowds of costumed mortals. My favorite author is widely quoted as having said, “Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us and sometimes, they win” (Stephen King).

This time of year the cable movie channels are full of science fiction and monster movies. Many of the old black and white films are more campy than scary. On Saturday, the “Comet” channel is showing a “Munsters” marathon. A television comedy from 1964 to 1966 that is a great mix of comedy and movie monsters. This sitcom family has the father Herman as Frankenstein, his wife Lilly is Vampira, her father is both a bat and the vampire Dracula and their kid Eddie is the Wolfman. They also have a beautifully normal blond niece living in the house. The running joke is that she is the peculiar member of the family.

The sub-genre of horror movie known as slashers flicks do not appeal to me. Any movie that resembles a slaughterhouse on a busy day is not entertainment. A good scary movie is one that uses its story and characters to build tension.

In the original 1956 version of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” pod creatures from outer space assume the bodies of their human victims. The scariest scene came when the pod person takes the body of a man and the head of his dog. When the dog-headed man barked at the people fighting the pod monsters it sent a shiver of anxiety through me hard enough to spill the popcorn.

Stock up on candy for all the trick-or-treaters that will be coming house to house tonight. Homemade treats are too risky to give or accept from strangers, which is sad. Homemade popcorn balls, candy apples, cookies and fudge are delicious. The opportunity for sick and twisted people to tamper with homemade treats has ruined that avenue.

Have a happy Halloween.


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