October 31st, All Hallow´s Eve. Halloween.
I have to admit that this is not one of my favourite times of the year. In part it´s because once the clocks change to an hour earlier, it starts getting dark very early in the evening, the weather gets more unsettled and the temperature drops…
But mostly it´s because I don´t like scary stuff. Not even a little bit.
I´m writing these lines in between rounds of kids ringing my doorbell and shouting “trick or treat”, and I don´t mind that part at all, I even like it. I dress up as something simple and not scary at all (this year, a Harry Potter robe and a tie; on other occasions, a witch´s dress and hat), and I enjoy handing out sweets to the neighbourhood kids.
What I´m not comfortable with are the really scary costumes, horror movies, etc. Luckily, there´s plenty of choice nowadays, and I choose the child friendly version of Halloween, appropriate for all audiences 😊
But it is true that when one thinks about life back in times of our ancestors, with no electricity or central heating or any of the convenient things we´re so used to these days, and on a night like this, dark, cold, windy and rainy, one understands how they believed there were spirits and ghosts roaming around in this world… And also how they wanted to combat them in the best way they knew: with light.
I reckon that´s why fireworks and bonfires are so popular here in Ireland at this time of the year, and they remind me of Saint John´s Eve… Old rituals that have evolved into more modern ones, but that deep down still keep the same fascination with the unknown and the supernatural.
Much more colourful is the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration in Mexico, which I love not only for its aesthetics, but also for that beautiful and joyful way in which the Mexicans remember and honour their ancestors, acknowledging them as part of the family. This way, the world of the dead seems to be a bit closer to the world of the living, and instead of seeing it as a question of “us against them”, it encourages us to accept death as part of the cycle of life, and to understand it instead of fearing it.
To accept and understand. Maybe that´s the key to many of our fears.
To accept the challenge of looking at them face to face, of listening to what they have to say to us.
In Marie Curie´s words: