Saturday, October 24, 2009

Holidays seem to begin earlier each year. Aisles in the department stores are decorated for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas simultaneously. Stress is in the air, I feel it, and at this particular moment, my wallet is in no physical condition to live out the year without intense wheezing.

As I uploaded this picture of a pumpkin, and even though it’s October… it feels like a pre-mature, e-Jack o-lantern. You would think that after all these years, living with the Julian calendar, I would be used to the celebrations that occur at this time, EVERY YEAR, but no, they always sneak up from behind and surprise me.

For my own sanity, I will tackle one holiday at a time, thank you. Halloween. What is actually being celebrated? Well, originally it was a Catholic day of observance in honor of saints. Another Irish story says that, on that day, the disembodied spirits of those who passed throughout the preceding year would come back in search of living bodies to possess for the next year. The medical term for this possession is menopause. Celtic villagers would extinguish the fires in their homes, to make them cold and undesirable. Then they would dress up in ghoulish costumes, and parade around the neighborhood, being destructive, in order to frighten the spirits away.

I have unknowingly practiced this ritual for some time. I extinguish all the lights in my house to make it undesirable for the costumed midgets that knock on my door, in search of panhandled treats. It is really for their own good, and for mine. In previous years, I have purchased sweets to hand out, but ended up eating the entire stash myself before a single visitor arrived.

The Jack-o-lantern used to be fashioned from a hollowed-out turnip. That must have been an artistic challenge. It was named after a man named Jack, who was notorious as a drunkard, and tricked Satan into climbing a tree. Then he carved a cross in the tree’s trunk, trapping the devil up the tree. I have to admit, Jack has tricked me too. Yep, he’s a real trickster. Jack Daniels has tricked me onto many a barroom table and forced me to dance. He carved gigantic smiles on the observer’s faces, trapping me on the table.

Anyway, Jack was denied access to heaven because of his evil ways and the devil turned him away too, because it was long before he took anger management classes. He did give Jack a single ember to light his way in the frigid darkness. The hollowed-out turnip was the carrying case that came with it.

It was when the Irish immigrants came to America, that the pumpkin was adopted as Jack’s lantern. It’s a good thing too. Pumpkins are much more colorful when smashed on asphalt. The other name for Halloween this year is, Saturday. So, happy Saturday, whatever you celebrate.

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