Thursday, October 21, 2010

SCAREFEST - Author Guest Post: Mario Acevedo

Why I Love Halloween

I love Halloween because our pagan ghosts are unearthed and allowed to run naked.  There’s a certain religious group, of which I used to be a member, who claims that Halloween is nothing but a celebration of pagan and heathen traditions.  And guess what?  They’re one hundred percent correct.  And to that I give a loud and thunderous: Hoo-rah!

Halloween is a corruption of All Hallows’ Eve, or the evening before All Saints’ Day.  (The history is somewhat convoluted.  If you want the skinny on the origin, please consult Wikipedia.) Not surprisingly, back in the day, young men--and I’m sure a few lasses-used the occasion to unleash mischief and set the precedence for the Trick-or-Treat business.  They made Jack O’ Lanterns out of turnips, and it’s a good thing the tradition immigrated to America where their descendants learned that pumpkins have uses besides making pies.

In Mexico, for All Saints’ Day they celebrate Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) which sounds like a South-of-the Border festival about zombies, but in fact, is a time to pay tribute to the dead who have gone before us, i.e., our ancestors.  I didn’t know about the holiday until years after I’d moved away from home.  We didn’t celebrate Dia de los Muertos because it was regarded as a vestige of the Catholic traditions my family had discarded.  (We grew up Protestant, specifically Southern Baptists--meaning we were pious Bible-thumping party poopers.  Kool-Aid was our strongest drink, even at wedding receptions.)

Unlike the other pagan traditions appropriated by you-know-who for Christmas (the Yule Log, the Christmas Tree, holly and the whole let’s-pretend-this-is-not-about-the-Winter-Solstice) and Easter (the egg and the bunny), Halloween remains gratefully and unabashedly a celebration of all things pagan.  Witches.  Fairies.  Demons.  Plus other stuff like vampires.  Naughty nurses.  And pirates.  Arggh!

When I grew up, Halloween was about little kids in costume and the gimmee candy or I’ll TP your house extortion.  Once I got past the seventh grade, dressing up was considered lame.  Things have changed, of course.  Halloween ranks neck-to-throat with New Year’s for money spent on partying. 

Now as an adult, I gleefully partake in a modern rehash of the pagan ceremonies.  I’ve masqueraded as a sorcerer or an animal.  Last year I was Rat Bastard. (no one was surprised)  Indulged in age-appropriate beverages.  Offered confections infused with medicinal herbs.  Pity that no one has invited me to partake in the most infamous of all pagan rites.  An orgy.  Sigh.  Perhaps my aura still glistens with residual Baptist party pooper-ness.

So this Halloween, when the goblins, ghouls, and other fearsome creatures of the night come by your door, please share your goodies.  Get dressed up.  Carve pumpkins and dance around a bonfire like a heathen.  It’s what a good pagan would do.

Happy Fanging!

Mario Acevedo is the author of the Felix Gomez detective-vampire novels and the forthcoming graphic novel, Killing the Cobra.

Disclosure:  I did not receive any form of compensation for this post.

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