Kyoto, 31 October 2018
Halloween is upon us once again! Time to don the costumes of ghosts, goblins, zombies, skeletons, witches, and other assorted weirdos which we’ve been storing in our wardrobes since last year, and roam the streets drinking booze and checking out each other’s costumes!
Time to light the candles in those pumpkins which we’ve been patiently carving into hideous faces (or we just bought ready-made in plastic at the local store) and plonk them down in front of our door!
A dim and distorted reflection indeed of the beliefs of our ancestors that this was the night when for a short while the thin membrane separating the world of the living from the world of the dead became permeable, allowing the spirits of the dead to roam the land.
A time not to be out and about, risking to be set upon by evil spirits. A time to stay safe at home with your family.
Our ancestors also thought that, born as they were at that moment when real world and spirit world temporarily connected, Halloween babies had the ability in later life to commune with the spirits. When, 32 years ago, I wrote to our friends telling them that our son had been born in the early hours of 31st October, I jovially added that I looked forward to him having a successful career as a medium. Somewhat like Whoopi Goldberg in the film Ghost, although she initially was frightened stiff by her gift.
As of this writing, our son has shown no such gift although he has done well enough in other ways.
I am no believer in spirits – I am, as I have said in other posts, a child of the Scientific Revolution and the rationalism that came with it – but I do find it sad that what was for our ancestors an important and holy feast day has degenerated into a twee happening fueled by companies egging us on to consume.
Even the Japanese are getting into the act! Here in Kyoto we are constantly coming across the same Halloween-related consumeristic crap that we see now from Seattle to Budapest and beyond.
Halloween, it seems, is following in the steps of Christmas and going global: any excuse is good to get us out of the house and do some shopping.
Better by far that we just stay at home and enjoy each other’s company over a glass of wine. That’s certainly what my wife and I intend to do.
Halloween party: https://sf.funcheap.com/marin-singles-halloween-costume-party-san-rafael/
Medieval living and dead: http://www.medievalists.net/2013/10/the-medieval-walking-dead/
Whoopi Goldberg: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsI5bREF20Y
Halloween shopping: http://www.halloween-online.com/articles/halloween-articles-budgeting.html
Holiday shopping: https://me.me/i/fox-10-holiday-countdown-days-until-halloween-400-days-until-2900508