The Coast News Group
Small Talk

Halloween all about neighbors

I thank my great-great-great-great-great-and-then-some Irish grandparents for the fun of Halloween, as the ancient Celts launched the holiday as Samhain, an end-of-summer harvest festival.
This brings me to my fascination with the pronunciation of Gaelic — or Gaoidhealg — which rarely has anything to do with the letters involved. If you think spelling in English is tough, check it out. Samhain is pronounced Sow-in. Yeah.
Samhain was one of many efforts by early folk to try and control the dicey world around them. Lighting bonfires and making small sacrifices helped them cope with the vagaries of life and the really, really long and nasty winters back then. You better hope you had a decent crop to begin with. Then you better hope it would last until spring. Meanwhile, your biggest inconvenience wasn’t scraping ice off your windshield. It was wondering who was going to die of disease or starvation in the coming dark months. Good times. To support one another, they built a neighborhood/village event out of it and I think that is still its greatest charm.
Even then, it seems, folks had a taste for a shiver down their back. I suspect mothers invented the idea of spirits in the night to get children to go to bed on time. That, and they had to blame life’s hard luck on somebody, so they hung it on the already-dead — less arguments that way.
Being a giant, quivering coward, I am no fan of the macabre. I leave the gore and mayhem to others and focus on the cute and cuddly for my Samhain celebration. My children, however, jumped right back to their ancestors. The minute they could create their own costumes, it went from fairy princess and superhero to anything covered in blood and stick-on scars. I didn’t take as many photos as I once did.
This is my pitch for neighborhood trick-or-treating. Few things are as fun as having all the neighborhood kids and parents come by. I get irritated by out-of-neighborhood  “safe” trick-or-treat events. Halloween is as safe as a parent makes it. It’s what being neighbors is all about and empty streets make me sad.
I’ll be looking for you to come on by. It’s your job to keep the boogieman away for another year.