All Hallows’ Eve (or Halloween) can be traced back to its origin in ancient times when Samhain (read sow-in) was celebrated. This was the transition between the growing period and the resting period. The central theme of Samhain was transformation. The year turned from the long light days to long dark nights. Grains, fruits, and vegetables were harvested and prepared for winter storage.
It was believed that during this time the veil between the realms of living and dead became thinnest. As the clock ticked over to November 1st, the spiritual activity was at its highest. This allowed spirits of the dead to visit the living. In many cultures, All Hallows’ Eve became a night of vigil, prayer, and fasting in preparation for the next day when the saints were honored at a special celebration (All Saints Day followed by All Souls Day).
Transformation is still central to the observance of Halloween. The mask and costume transform the wearer from their everyday life to another persona. For a night, one becomes Darth Vader or a zombie or the Great Pumpkin. The best-known, and most popular, costumes also touch on transformation. The werewolf is a human who changes into an animal; the vampire can vanish into smoke or become a bat; ghosts were once people.
Trick or treat is a subtle suggestion that if a treat (like candy) is given, then the person will not perform a “trick” (mischief) on the owner of the house. This popular Halloween custom has its origins in the past.
While some identify precursors to trick-or-treating in ancient Celtic customs, modern trick-or-treating is thought to be a custom borrowed from guising or mumming in England, Scotland, and Ireland. These involve dressing in costume and singing a rhyme, doing a card trick, or telling a story in exchange for a sweet.
Poor people would visit the houses of wealthier families and receive pastries called soul cakes in exchange for a promise to pray for the souls of the homeowners’ dead relatives. Known as “souling” the practice was later taken up by children, who would go from door to door asking for gifts such as food or money.
Then the candy manufacturers realized that this could be a wonderful inspiration for sales of their products. And, of course, they were right. And now, the practice of handing out candies and other treats on Halloween has become very common.
For those of us with food addiction, it can become a real problem; having the food around, handling it, distributing it, can just set off our cravings and trigger our binges.
How to handle this? If there are other people in the house who can do it for you, that is fine. Keep your hands out of it; don’t open the bags. Or you can put them in bowls on your front porch for children to enjoy.
But there are better ways. Look at this link from our friend Cynthis Myers Morrison:
There are dozens of ways and places to find non candy items for treats: pens and pencils, rulers, tablets, silly hats and gloves, stuffed animals, books, toys, games, and markers. If one of these stores is not available, try your local Dollar Store, Sam’s Club, or Staples, or bookstore.
No, you do not have to empty your checking account! There are many alternatives and thank you Cynthia for sharing all these options with us.
Here is the bottom line: Halloween is the beginning of the most special, holy, sacred, transformational, enriching, enjoyable, and spiritual time of the year. Don’t start off with violating your beliefs and hurting your body. Don’t keep your spirit from experiencing these precious holidays joyfully and abstinently. Find ways to say no – to adjust and set yourself up for success today, Next week we will talk about handling the rest of this holiday season, for your joy and transformation!
Blessings to you,