Tuesday, October 31, 2006

In defense of Hallowe'en

and contra my good friend across the pond; also because my memories of Hallowe'en are more like Ray Bradbury's than my daughter's are.

And because I can root around in the archives for seasonal commentary. But it is true, unfortunately: Hallowe'en isn't what it used to be.

Alternatively, you can remember that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenburg church door on this date, in 1517. He was protesting church corruption. Wonder how one would protest cultural corruption today? Maybe by pointing out Hallowe'en isn't the worst that American culture has to offer.

ADDING: It didn't occur to me until just now that Hallowe'en is our vestigial Feast of Fools. I couldn't find a link for it, but the History Channel last night ran a brief video on efforts to "tame" Hallowe'en over the years. It was once a time of pranks and mischeif, some of it quite serious (may father still remembers it that way from his childhood). Candy, per the History Channel, was introduced in the '30's by candy makers partly to turn channel that mischief by giving treats for being good. And so it grew. But today, it is the one chance we all have to dress up and be someone else; or to mock politicians (Richard Nixon was the favorite of my adolescence, at least judging from the availability of the mask), or to be provocative (how often do women not on stage get to wear French maid or cat-suits?). It's always been a problem, keeping it from becoming dangerous or destructive. But it's one more indicator to me that we really aren't that different from our ancestors, and the more we try to be, the more we need some of their release from social norms.

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