Monday, October 31, 2011

Ponderings on Halloween

We had a celebration today. No, we didn’t celebrate Halloween but my nephew’s 4th birthday. After my sister and her family left, the last dishes were washed up and the order in the living room was restored… I grabbed after the remote control and began to push the buttons. I found a movie – a Halloween one. I was about 11 years old when I watched it for the first time and at least 11 times since then. It’s Hocus Pocus – a movie about Halloween, witches, black cat and magic. I simply loved it. I think I was a *good* Catholic girl who adapted the pagan ideas into her belief system. In excuse back then I was a religious and lost girl and not a born again believer.
I knew Halloween had to do with witches in real life too, but I didn’t know much about it. Of course I “knew” Jack-O’-Lantern and I always liked carved pumpkins and wanted to go trick or treating… I’m the chocoholic in the family and it seemed to be fun to leave with an empty and to arrive with a bucket full of chocolates.
More than a week ago I was listening on  to an 11 minutes long sound clip on the Origin of Halloween. Well… what I heard there by David N.Taylor shocked me. Not really what I heard… but what I saw in my surroundings. People put carved pumpkins in front of their houses, the stores are decorated with orange color, Jack-O’-Lanterns, costumes are sold… for an event Hungary doesn’t even celebrate. Or am I mistaken?
My cousin bought a huge pumpkin to carve with his daughters. When I asked him WHY? he answered me… there was Halloween in school and the little girl also had Halloween in kindergarten. What? Now I was shocked! 
Upset I told Mom about my conversation with my cousin… and she told me that she as a little girl used to carve pumpkins too, but in that time they didn’t know anything about this festival they did it just for decoration (and fun) and not for this typical day.
I ran to the bookshelf to find my book on Hungarian holidays and folk customs. The whole book is the mix of pagan and Catholic customs. In 1000 Hungary was declared to a Christian (well Catholic) state and the pagans were forced to get christened and go to church. But our religion was Shamanism. We also believed in ghosts and spirits, full moon and that this time of the year deaths are coming back onto the Earth. Pumpkin lanterns were made – those with wicked face to scare evil spirits away from crops, houses etc.
Later in villages this was the weekend when the harvest ended so they had harvest festivals with pumpkin-lantern-contest.
In my parents’ childhood lanterns were made whenever in the fall just to decorate the house with.  
I as a child kinda wanted to have this celebration in our country.. but now as an adult and a  true believer living in a country this festival is more and more present (I haven’t heard about trick or treating so far)… I’m firmly against.

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