All Hallow's Eve

October 31st, besides being Halloween, is a significant day in a more personal way. You see, back on October 31, 1985 I had my first published article appear in the Barnstable Patriot newspaper at the tender age of 23. For a freelance writer, that's something special - even 21 years and some 500 articles later I still remember the thrill of that first article, to see it in print, with my own byline.

That short article was Halloween-themed, and so I thought it would be appropriate to rerun it here to celebrate the night. (Be kind, I wrote it long ago when I was a much younger person!)

All Hallow's Eve 

jackolanternHalloween is a night which somehow seems very different from the other 364 nights of the year. On, say, the night of January 23rd or the night of August 12th, witches, ghosts, and goblins are imaginary beings which only lurk, if at all, in the minds of men and women. But on the night of October 31, All Hallow's Eve, or Halloween as it is now called, these creatures come to life. They are, for at least this one night, very much real. On this night, anything is possible.

Over the years the meaning of Halloween, the power of Halloween, has become lost inside of bags of candy and behind plastic masks. The real Halloween lies dormant, hidden beneath the fallen leaves, waiting to surface.

In the past this night received more respect. To our predecessors this eve held more significance. On this night the Druids believed that Saman, the lord of the dead, called his servants to rise from their graves and haunt the earth. In an effort to protect themselves from these spirits, the Druids lit large bonfires. Today, those bonfires have been replaced by meek candlelight. The flame exisits, but the meaning is lost, clouded behind candy bars and lollypops.

Halloween has not truly accomplished its task unless each of us is in some way frightened. It attempts to do this by capitalizing on our primeval fears. In recent years, though, we have set aside our primitive beliefs for we now consider ourselves to be educated beings. But no matter how far we evolve, there will always be something in the far reaches of our educated minds which will bring us back to a time when we feared the moon itself. We cannot escape it, for deep down we are still animals. We will always be haunted. We will always know fear. That is why Halloween "spooks" us.

This particular night frightened our ancestors, and it will continue to frighten their descendants. As soon as the sun sets and All Hallow's Eve is upon us, witches, ghosts, and goblins awaken from their long sleep.

On this night there is no escaping it. We are afraid.

Jack Sheedy

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