COLUMN: All Hallows’ Eve: The passage into winter

As a child, I remember the excitement building as Halloween approached

All Hallows’ Eve, also known as All Saints’ Eve and more commonly as Halloween is a celebration observed in some countries on Oct. 31.

For western Christians, this is the evening before All Hallows’ Day, marking the start of Allhallowtide, a three-day observance dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows) and all the faithful departed.

It is thought that many Hallowe’en traditions originated from ancient Celtic harvest festivals.

For some, the Christian religious observances can include attending church services, lighting candles on the graves of the dead or abstaining from meat on All Hallows’ Eve, eating instead vegetarian meals typically including apples, potato pancakes and soul cakes (small, round spiced cakes to honour the dead – given to all who were out and about.)

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As a child, I remember the excitement building as Halloween approached.

The fussing over costumes always made but never purchased, checking flashlight batteries and of utmost importance – planning the trick-or-treat route!

Having older siblings, I was always sent out Hallowe’en night under their supervision.

When my sister gave up trick-or-treating, my older brother was given responsibility for my safe return home, a task he argued bitterly with my mother over.

We largely had free reign on this one night of the year and my brother wanted to race to as many houses as possible with his friends.

It was highly embarrassing to have a little sister dragging behind and possibly not able to cover the territory necessary to accomplish the ‘mega-haul’ as they called it.

Complaints aside, he was charged with my care and for the first block or two, kept his pace alongside mine.

When he intercepted his buddies a few streets over, he ditched me or some years, sent me into the scariest house even his bravest friends wouldn’t dare go to.

I was of course, sworn to secrecy and made to promise to meet him at the corner at a specific time.

I would take my time, out in the dark by myself, lugging my pillow case behind me.

I loved the thrill of seeing the world all dressed in black and spying Jack O’Lanterns on steps, paths and in front windows.

I took my time, visiting with neighbours and making my way back to the rendezvous spot.

When we got home, we ceremoniously dumped our cases out onto the floor to survey the goodies.

After some tense and heated negotiations, we completed our trades and got busy with the final (and best) part of the evening.

My brother and I separated all the candy, determining which pieces would be used for different parts of construction.

We then built the best candy-village on the living room floor, lining up roads of suckers end to end, stacking caramels to build walls and making houses out of boxes of raisins and those horrible candy-kisses.

It was the only time the ever-neat room became our domain.

Mom would patiently allow this until Nov. 1 at noon, at which time, all returned to normal.

For a few new takes on some Hallowe’en stories try Bone Soup by Alyssa Satin Capucilli or Boo! Haiku by Deana Caswell.

Sue Kline is the Community Librarian at the Summerland Branch of the Okanagan Regional Library.

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