Monday, 31 October 2011
My esteemed colleague, Icy Sedgwick, has most graciously allowed me to use her blog on this most auspicious of occasions to wish you all a most pleasant Halloween. In her own words, "Who better to write about it than a ghost?"
As you can imagine, Halloween is a somewhat busy time of year for me and my kind, and HQ gets rather hectic as we ready ourselves for the Big Day. It is with some gratitude that I say we have the privilege to be never understaffed. Unlike Father Christmas, who endeavours to reach all children on a single night by himself, we have plenty of Haunters to go around!
Naturally, we have seen many changes in the festival as the years have rolled by. Why, back in my day, we did not even celebrate Halloween, being as it was the pagan festival of Samhain. (I shall ignore the fact that the Puritan movement wished us to not celebrate anything, let alone Halloween.) What does a Celtic celebration have to do with the demands of small children for sweets?
That particular tradition began in days gone by, when it was believed that a soul's transition to the afterlife was eased by the number of prayers offered by the living. I have never been able to square this belief with the widespread fear of, and belief in, the supernatural, but I do not make the rules, I simply observe them. But I digress. The wealthy, believing themselves to be too busy to offer endless prayers of supplication to the Almighty, needed someone to do it on their behalf. The poor, never ones to miss a trick, stepped in to offer these prayers for the deceased loved ones, in exchange for small biscuits known as soul cakes. I am unsure as to whether or not any poor ones denied their soul cakes chose to toilet paper the houses of the wealthy, but we may leave this matter to speculation.
Thus it was that the festival, and the celebration thereof, has continued to evolve, and nowadays, you are more likely to be visited by children dressed as their favourite pop culture characters, on the trail of E-numbers and sugar, but I want you all to remember that while you may not be able to see them, you may find your home playing host to visitors of a more spectral nature. Ancestors, enemies, even old neighbours may come knocking this evening, and their "tricks" are likely to be of a more supernatural nature than flaming bags of dog business or fake vomit pushed through your letterbox.
So remember, good people. You never know who might pay a visit tonight, so make sure the house is tidy and you have sweets to hand. Even ghosts like the occasional square of chocolate.