Eight more days until Halloween in the increasingly post-Christian United States of America.
This is what Wikipedia says about October 31:
“Halloween…is an annual holiday observed on October 31, which commonly includes activities such as trick-or-treating, attending costume parties, carving jack-o’-lanterns, bonfires, apple bobbing, visiting haunted attractions, playing pranks, telling scary stories, and watching horror films. […]
The word Halloween is first attested in the 16th century and represents a Scottish variant of the fuller All-Hallows-Even (“evening”), that is, the night before All Hallows (or All Saints) Day.
Historian Nicholas Rogers, exploring the origins of Halloween, notes that while ‘some folklorists have detected its origins in the Roman feast of Pomona, the goddess of fruits and seeds, or in the festival of the dead called Parentalia, it is more typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain […] the festival historically kept by the Gaels and celts in the British Isles which is derived from Old Irish and means roughly ‘summer’s end’ […]
Mass transatlantic immigration in the 19th century popularized Halloween in North America, and celebration in the United States and Canada has had a significant impact on how the event is observed in other nations. This larger North American influence, particularly in iconic and commercial elements, has extended to places such as South America, Australia, New Zealand,continental Europe, Japan, and other parts of East Asia. […]
Celtic NeoPagans consider the season a holy time of year.”
That is exactly what’s happening in a small village on the shore of Lake Ontario in New York state, as well as throughout America — the increasing paganization of All Hallows Eve.
Nathan Baker reports for AuburnPub.com, Oct 23, 2011, that the annual All Hallows’ Eve event in Fair Haven, a small village at the top of Cayuga County in New York, brought a flock of hundreds of witches, warlocks, wizards, “and other ghouls” to “invade Main Street.”
“This is the festival we have every fall to get ready for winter and do something for the kids,” Fair Haven Chamber of Commerce member Pat Cooper Maxon said. “We’ve got a benefit for the food pantry, some unique vendors, games and the mulled cider is excellent.”
One of the main draws for the yearly celebration is the witches parade.
Led by a tricked out hearse and followed by the headless horseman mounted atop his hellish steed, a throng of spellcasters decked out in pointy hats and black cloaks crowded past the village’s Main Street Park to the cheers of parents and neighbors.
“I couldn’t believe how many witches we had this year,” Maxon said. “I was standing here and they went all the way out of sight on this side and all the way out of sight on the other side. It had to have been hundreds.”
Maxon said the yearly fall festival is one of a series of events designed to entice visitors to the village and encourage shopping at the local businesses.
Lily Boorsman of Conquest brought her 3-year-old son Jacob dressed in a Batman costume.
“It’s good to have something like this where the kids can get dressed up and have some fun,” she said. “A lot of these kids live in more rural areas and you can’t really go trick-or-treating because the houses are so far apart and sometimes the weather’s bad by then.”
Maxon said the turnout at the event was beyond her expectations. “It’s a big success, especially for an overcast day,” she said. “I just hope we can make it bigger and better next year.”