For many, Halloween night marks the beginning of the cold months. While humans have learned to survive the winter months, there are still many challenges that come with the cold. Studies show that even today more people die in winter months, with January being the cruelest. Beyond that, winter adversely affects us all.
As the temperatures fall, the winds blow with greater ferocity, sunlight is often obscured, and snow and ice impede our physical progress. These physical and environmental conditions take their toll on all of us. Many of us have recurring physical ailments with the coming of the cold and flu season. Asthma, cold sores, arthritis and even heart attacks are more prevalent in winter months. As the days get shorter, many of our residents suffer from a psychological ailment known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, often referred to as the winter blues.
In a historical context, during the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, the Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in an area now known as Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on Nov. 1. Druids (ancient wizards) constructed large bonfires and people would dress up in costumes of animal heads and skins, according to www.History.com.
Apparently this act of dressing up was a sacred ritual. Ceremonies were conducted, prayers were offered, and sacrifices were made in an effort to ameliorate the rigors and horrors of the upcoming winter season.
As time has passed, the practice of Druids lighting fires has given way to Halloween lights and jack-o-lanterns, and people dressing up like animals to ward off demons have been replaced with a community of princesses, superheroes and a variety of other costumed characters playing tricks and seeking treats.
As any parent of a young daughter has learned (and we have learned these lessons over and over and over again thanks to the magic of modern video playback and streaming devices), the princesses we see every Halloween night represent characters who are used to dealing with evil in its vilest forms. They represent characters who have overcome evil with goodness, kindness and forgiveness.
Cinderella had to deal with the untimely death of her parents, false imprisonment, poverty and an abusive family. Snow White was forced to flee her comfortable home and live with strangers in crowded conditions, being hunted by evil personified. This evil appears to triumph over the goodness of Snow White, but, in the end, she overcomes it all, even death itself.
As for superheroes, comic book mythology also exemplifies good conquering evil. The classic comic book storyline tells the story of a socially marginalized character who attains superpowers to defend goodness and pureness and defeat the bullies of the world.
As we prepare for Halloween, welcoming these princesses and superheroes to our porches, as in days of old, can help ameliorate the rigors and horrors of the upcoming winter season. Seeing their bright, smiling, sugar-filled faces gives us hope and reminds us even in the darkest of winters, good can triumph over evil and happiness can push out sadness.
So light a jack-o-lantern (bonfires are prohibited by city code), say a prayer for protection this coming winter and remember the examples of our young people. It’s worth the price of a few pieces of candy. Happy Halloween, everybody!