Toronto, Atlanta (24/10 – 10)
Not too long ago, “Halloween”, a contraction of the Christian holiday known as “All Hallows’ Eve,” was a time to honors dead saints. Take a look at the multi-billion-dollar enterprise, celebrated on October 31st every year, which it has evolved into, at least in North America, and you’ll find no sainted creatures – but a plethora of devils and the dead.
Not to mention the Undead (imagine Yoko Ono) which have leaked out of the hundreds upon hundreds of horror movies, many of them truly horrible horrors, since brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière invented the first motion picture camera, projector, and film printer, all in one hand-cranked, wobbly device called the Cinématographe.
Fear sells, so right on the button appeared Georges Méliès, a French illusionist, actor, and film director, one of the first to film fictional narratives: he made the naïve French scream in terror with the earliest horror films around: The Devil’s Manor, A Terrible Night , Swindling of a lady at the theater; the Brits, seeing how people would fork over good money to be terrified by flickering scratchy black-and-white images on a silent screen, piled in with The Haunted Castle and The Bewitched Inn, all around the Turn of the Century.
Little could they imagine of the coming horrors of aerial bombardment, gas warfare, extermination camps and nuclear weaponry, a hundred million dead and counting – a true horror, with no fantasy required.
In most other countries that celebrate Halloween, the “Hollywood Effect”, with its costume parties, front yards festooned with tombstones, ghosts and spooky lights, has not overpowered the brains of parents and children.
The filmy curtain separating the world of the living (that means YOU, reader) from the underworld (hey dead people – stop reading this – you don’t need it) apparently thins out around the end of autumn, the harvests brought in and the departed remembered.
Weird customs: in Guatemala they crank up a Barriletes Gigante – a giant kite festival which is alleged to signal the fleeting spirits of those who have flown the coop (Deadsville). The Irish, always suspected of paganism with their leprechauns and peculiar Druid-flavored culture, celebrate Samhain, an ancient Celtic festival observed with bonfires, feasting, divination even today. Whooping it up with the Catholics are Pagans, Wiccans and other practitioners of the Occult, following the harvest and the advent of the “dark half” of the year. Dead kinfolk feeling lonely are welcomed back into their old homes – or their spirits anyway, if they manage to puncture the diaphragm isolating world-from-underworld; Irish families even set a place at the table for dead relatives at mealtime. “Eat, Drink and Be Merry, for Tomorrow You May Die!” “Wait… already dead… hey, give that food to the dog. She’s been looking at it all evening.”
Ditto for Halloween in Italy, where the custom of Ognissanti allows deceased souls to visit their living relatives – and presumably argue with them. “Where did you hide the money from the Fascists during the war? Come on – tell us, Grandma! Who dug out Uncle Pascuale’s gold teeth when they buried him?” [The spirits just snicker and roll their eyes: “You won’t need any gold or money when you come over to this side, you greedy ingrates…”]
The festive Japanese, always ready for a parade, hold Obon, a Buddhist memorial tradition honoring ancestors’ spirits with lanterns, dances, and bonfires. (Imagine a hundred million cellphones all taking snapshots at once.) The ancestors, staring and grimacing, undoubtedly disapprove of such behavior… the Japanese like to disapprove of everything…
The coolest of all is the Día de lot Muertos, or “Day of the Dead” in México and España. Kids run around with skull masks and crunch on candy skeletons. Death is everywhere, laughing, and the Mexicans are laughing along with death, as they clean and oil their shiny guns. A culture of Catholicism, melded with ancient sinister Mayan beliefs, manifest with altars, offerings, and grim costumes.
Americans do not in general care to be reminded of death. They prefer to hide it, with the stiffs prettied up with makeup and dolled up to the tune of seven thousand shekels (average) with a ceremony suspiciously like a wedding but at the “Funeral Home”.
In fact, the corporate/consumerist paradise frankly finds death an inconvenient obstacle to selling more stuff to the sheeple, which is after all their raison d’être. “To live is to consume – to die is to stop being a good consumer”. Did Descartes say that? Or was it “I think, therefore I consume”?
Instead, the Americans make fun of death, with a billion-dollar industry pumping out Dracula costumes, Frankenstein masks, sugary treats and party favors for the kiddies and their costumed, infantilized parents, and grinning pumpkins.
The death industry is going great guns these days, with mRNA gene therapy, aka “vaccines” killing so many eager consumers that the insurance companies are screaming. How Halloween will accommodate spike proteins and “Died Suddenly” movies remains to be seen, along with the lit candles to annoy ghosts and trick-or-treating, a custom fallen into disuse as Americans have become so unfortunately fearful of one another.
It’s not the dead, or the living dead, you have to look out for – it’s the ones whose political opinions you despise. Halloween with gunfire – de rigueur in America these exciting times.