During the Celtic festival of Samhain, as it was called, it was common for celebrants to tell the fortunes of others, and it was also popular to toss stones into the bonfires. I have read of the belief that if you couldn’t find your stone after the fire went out, you wouldn’t live through the following year. That alone would have turned me off to the practice.
We all know about Martin Luther and the Reformation. His new protestant religion had no saints, so there would be no All Hallows’ Day for him and his followers. The Puritans in New England hated Halloween because they viewed it as a pagan custom. It was initially outlawed in their settlements.
My own parents refused to let us celebrate as very small children when my dad was involved in what was called a fundamental protestant group. Once he joined the far more liberal Methodist Church, we embraced it and my mother dressed us up in homemade costumes every year. I’ve written about my mother outfitting me as a lion in Massena Center and making the tail so long, other trick-or-treaters stepped on it all night long and I ended up with a bad case of whiplash.
Do I love Halloween? What do you think? For me and for many, it’s a great time for superstition and celebration. There are adults in their 50s who remember the scary sounds coming from the trees around our Morrisonville home on Oct. 31 and the ghoulish coffin that greeted them in our front hallway. I wore horrible rubber masks and jumped at them to inspire sheer terror. Today — not so much. And we no longer have our beloved dogs to greet every trick-or-treater.
I’m happy that vandalism on Halloween is almost a thing of the past, and there are no longer threats of people “doctoring” candy to injure the little ones. I’m also thrilled to see all the indoor community events to keep children safe, and I commend all of you who are part of the local haunted houses and special public and private parties.
Have a happy Halloween — no matter how you pronounce it — and please, drive carefully.
Gordie Little was for many years a well-known radio personality in the North Country and now hosts the “Our Little Corner” television program for Home Town Cable. Anyone with comments for him may send them to the newspaper or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.