Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hallowe'en Memories: Before There Were

One of the purposes of the business I run from my home is to preserve memories. On occasion I want to share some of the more poignant memories I come across - whether in my day-to-day activities or in my business.

On one of the religious discussion forums on which I am a member, we recently had the annual "Hallowe'en-is-evil/good/okay" debate. This is the discussion during which we go over whether or not Hallowe'en is of Satanic or Pagan origin, whether it is okay for kids to dress up and go trick-or-treating, whether we should be rejecting the holiday all together - even whether or not it should even be called a "holi (holy) day!"

Well, we "do" Hallowe'en with a pretty closed view on which types of costumes are allowed and which are on the "banned" list. The kids go door-to-door with their friends before retiring to one porch or another to check out their hauls. Some memories, when shared, just grab me and invite me to become part of that world, if only for a few minutes. There were two people who shared their Hallowe'en memories on the forum that reminded me of my own childhood. Several of us on were inclined to remember our own memorable Hallowe'en moments as a result. These are the two I'd like to share in this post.

Both are from around the time of WWII, during which rationing was taking place and things were harder in terms of day-to-day life. I share their memories here, with their permission...

This first was written by Theodora in the Mounain (Hermit,)

During the war, that is the WWII era, rationing and hard times were the sign of the times (and for you young ones who think all of this wasn't real but just propaganda for the movies, it was life as lived then) Halloween was quiet different. Now remember these are the days before "M&Ms" for these little treats were developed for the have a high energy pick up that would not melt all over everything. What we got was "homebaked" cookies, candy in the form of sticks or hard handy (also homemade or saved up over the year just for the kids) and asorted nuts (we had pecan tree in our back yard and saved alot for this night and Christmas) and if you were really lucky you got real fresh apples or oranges (things you couldn't get much on rations). My brothers and I would bring the apples and nuts home to my father who would diced them up and make apple turnovers the following Sunday. What a treat for all. We dressed in homemade outfits: hoboes, soldiers (if you were lucky to have a real army metal helmet), Huck Finn, tramps and princess, nurse, gypsy, etc for the girls. We would usually meet after"doing the neighborhood" at someone's house and dunk for apples (more to take home to dad) and play games and such. You see it wasn't until after WWII that the soldiers got home to discover that the bits of chocolate they came to love wasn't make for us civies. And when one could save enough coupons for "dried chocolate" it was used only for that special cake. But the soldiers wanted their "M&Ms" (Military ---- I forget what they called them). I remember eating my first when a neighbor came home from the war and brought some and gave us kids a few each. We didn't celebrate the devil or anything "bad", it was just "kids' night" and yes, All Saints was observed and in many a family one went to Church and then to the cemetery to put wild flowers or bright leaves on the graves of those we loved so..especially those killed in action.

And a recollection from a man in the same generation, who was in a California neighborhood...

Ah! You bring back memories: the neighborhood 'haunted house' where the kids lined up to crawl through the window, and had to feel the 'dead man's eye balls' (peeled grapes) and the dead man's guts (cold spaghetti!) and a few other things, and then we had the party in the living room. We had ghosts in old white sheets, fairy princesses in little ballerina costumes with tinsel crowns and glittered wands, and pirates etc. Lots of fun for all. And there were lots of apples and oranges handed out.

In our house, these are the types of memories we try to encourage. My own childhood Hallowe'ens were similar - my most memorable costumer was when I wore my mother's wedding dress and went as a bride. She worked so hard to pin the dress up so it wouldn't drag the ground! I don't remember ever buying our outfits, but I remember all the excitement and planning and anticipation that went into making our costumes! What could we pull together from what was already in the scrap bag?

I am fond of those memories - so for those who say that Hallowe'en is borne from times of pagan worship, well, perhaps it is historically, but in our church it has been said that God makes good come of all things. For me, those long-ago Hallowe'ens were times that helped bring me closer to my then-new stepfamily. I use it now to help my children come closer together as they plan and create their own costumes, learn to compromise over the "favorite" candy, and bond in ways that they will reminisce over in the years to come. In three days - I'll post pictures of the costumes they have picked this year - for now, I give you pictures of past outfits. Last year we had a scarecrow, a bumblebee, a horse, and I do believe a campy vampire did sneak into the fray, using an old tux shirt and a handmade cape - no blood allowed though, he was a sugar vampire ;) Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Cute! I like how M. is totally unafraid of the scarecrow!


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