October 28, 2012

Halloween a time for superstition, celebration

Do you say “hallo-ween” or “hollo-ween”?

If I had to guess, I’d say many people would admit to the second pronunciation. Truth is it’s not hollow at all. It’s hallow. Far be it from me to be a Halloween policeman, but saying it right might be a good way to tune up for the 31st. There are no demerits for making it a hollow holiday. This is just for fun.

I can’t find a use of the word Halloween until the 1500s, but some scholars trace the celebration back to my Celtic ancestors thousands of years ago. Halloween is no doubt a variation of what was called All Hallows’ Eve. I’m pretty sure my Irish ancestors brought Halloween with them to this country during and after the infamous potato famine and really got the holiday cranked up in America in the mid-19th century.

I’m interested in the origins of Halloween because it was believed to be a time when the door was opened between this world and the place where spirits exist. I’m sure ghost stories have been around since the beginning, but All Hallows’ Eve became the focus. Everyone knows my interest in collecting and writing ghost stories, so Halloween is a really cool time for me.

I got to tell my stories around a couple giant bonfires again this year, and that makes them even more special. The bonfires have also been around as part of the celebration for at least a couple thousand years. Those Celts really knew their stuff, didn’t they?

Costumes? History tells us people dressed up in the olden days to ward off the evil spirits who tried to come back and possess the living, raising havoc and killing all the crops. It was also a time when the living could communicate with the spirits and predict the future. That, to me, was so fascinating that I have spent much of my adult life studying the paranormal.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • ouellette.jpg Web doctor always gets it right

    I have access to the collected medical knowledge of all recorded history at my fingertips, columnist Steve Ouellette writes.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Airport projects can benefit local economy

    Using a local workforce keeps wages and spending in the community if it can be done in a cost-effective manner, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Producers can recycle tubing

    Project allows maple-syrup makers to conveniently dispose of their used tubing in an environmentally friendly way, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Easter with doubters and the 'nones'

    Should more pastors ask this blunt question: "Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" wonders religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • little_mug.jpg There's no saw like an old saw Kaye and I laughed ourselves silly the other day as we tried to top each other with our own sayings from childhood, columnist Gordie Little writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Denenberg_Stu1.jpg Privacy concerns make a comeback

    There's a growing concern amongst the millennials, columnist Stu Denenberg writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg Several options exist for downtown

    Pedestrian mall just one idea that could be good for city's economic future, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Government can't create success on its own

    It takes a grass-roots community effort of people working together to assure future accomplishment, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers strive for sustainability

    Conserving the land and assuring long-term profitability are two of the key goals for farmers these days, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension
Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns
Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice

Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk

Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time