Posted by: Jack Henry | October 27, 2022

Editor’s Corner: Hallow

I’ve been thinking about Halloween a lot lately. My husband just bought what feels like a 10-pound package of candy corns and candy pumpkins, we watched a show on the three most controversial candies in America (the most loved and simultaneously most hated top three: black licorice, circus peanuts, and candy corn), and of course the neighborhood is decorated with giant skeletons and spiders.

Outside of this, I’ve also been thinking about death, dying, and El Dia de Los Muertos. Why? Well, my YMCA has a great display and history of Dia de Los Muertos, which I love and plan to celebrate. Looking at both holidays, I found some interesting information I’d like to share, but first a definition. I kept reading about “All Hallows Eve” and “All Hallows Day,” and thought, “What the heck is a hallow?” From Merriam-Webster:

hallow (verb)

1: to make holy : set apart for holy or religious use : treat or keep as sacred : consecrate

2: to respect greatly : venerate, revere

hallow (noun, archaic)

1: a saint or holy person.

Okay, now for a little more history on Halloween and the hallowed hallows, from the New York Public Library blog:

All Hallows’ Eve, or Halloween as it is commonly referred, is a global celebration on October 31. It developed from the ancient Celtic ritual of Samhain [KC – Pronounced
saa-wn.], which was, in the simplest terms, a festival celebrating the changing of the seasons from light to dark (summer to winter). This would usually take place around November 1.

Traditionally, a bonfire would be lit, sweets would be prepared, and costumes would be worn to ward off evil spirits as the ancient Celts believed that, at this time of year, the veil separating the worlds of the living and the dead was at its thinnest.

Early Christian officials tried to impose their own holiday to stop their converts from practicing non-Christian festivals. Pope Gregory III deemed November 1, All Saints’ Day, a celebration of Christian martyrs and saints, and November 2 became All Souls Day, a day for remembering the souls of the dead. All Saints’ Day later became known as All Hallows’ Day, and the previous day, October 31, became known as All Hallows’ Eve, then later, Halloween.

Despite the best efforts of the church, people still continued to celebrate Halloween with traditional bonfires, costumes, treats, and a focus on spirits of the dead.

Moving on to Dia de Los Muertos, we have this from Wikipedia.

The Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos or Día de los Muertos) is a holiday traditionally celebrated on November 1 and 2, though other days, such as October 31 or November 6, may be included depending on the locality. It largely originated in Mexico, where it is mostly observed, but also in other places, especially by people of Mexican heritage elsewhere.

Although associated with the Western Christian observances [KC – Mentioned in the previous article] it has a much less solemn tone and is portrayed as a holiday of joyful celebration rather than mourning. The multi-day holiday involves family and friends gathering to pay respects and to remember friends and family members who have died. These celebrations can take a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed. [KC – And this is why I find it so delightful and therapeutic. It is a great tradition to emulate and celebrate!]

Traditions connected with the holiday include honoring the deceased using calaveras and aztec marigold flowers, known as cempazúchitl, building home altars called ofrendas with the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these items as gifts for the deceased. The celebration is not solely focused on the dead, as it is also common to give gifts to friends such as candy sugar skulls, to share traditional pan de muerto with family and friends, and to write light-hearted and often irreverent verses in the form of mock epitaphs dedicated to living friends and acquaintances, a literary form known as calaveras literarias.

I left the links in the Wikipedia article (above) so you can check out some of the calaveras and interesting things associated with the day.

I’m going to combine both Halloween and Dia de los Muertos and celebrate my dearly departed Harvey, who was the Lion King of Halloweens Past. I’ll make sure to tell grand stories of his shenanigans and have some of his favorite (street) foods on hand: half-eaten pizza, a bag of chicken tenders, and whatever else the neighborhood kids throw over their balcony.

Kara Church | Technical Editor, Advisory | Technical Publications

Pronouns: she/her | Call via Teams |

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