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Asbury Park Press from Asbury Park, New Jersey • Page 14

Asbury Park Pressi
Asbury Park, New Jersey
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B2 Asbury Park Oct. 25, 1982 Lifestyle Some scairr facts about Malloweeui she loved, and thought she had seen his EDITOR'S NOTE: Hallowed fttfc at tfce favartte holiday of million of cfckirea, with this Jack-O'-Lantern, he has been roaming the face of the earth. At Halloween, Scottish children look for the largest turnips from the harvest They hollow them out, carve faces oa them, and put candles inside. They caD them bogies and carry them to scare away witches. WHEN SCOTCH and Irish people came to the United States, they found pumpkins growing here.

Pumpkins made perfect spirit. On Halloween greeting cards, skeletons 'mean the same thing as Halloween ghosts or spirits. They remind us once again that a holiday we celebrate just for tun was once solemn a day of the dead. "WE LIVE with our dead," the French people of Birttany say. At the "place of bones," the remains of those dead for a long time lie together in one tomb.

At the entrance to the tomb, they walk along, touching the rows of skulls. Doing this makes them feel closer to their ancestors. The evil of All Souls, in Naples, Italy, finds everyone at the cemeteries, dressing up the exposed skeletons of dead relatives. -On All Souls' Day itself, the skeletons receive visitors in their tombs. In Mexico on the Days of the Dead, street peddlers sell holiday toys.

There are skeletons with movable legs and toy coffins that release a skeleton jack-in-the-box. The special jewelry on sale includes tiepins in the shape of a skeleton with dangling ribs. In 1900 an English lady asked the horseman on her country estate if he had ever noticed any ghosts. "Ghosties!" he scoffed. "Who's believing in them? All I've ever seen about the place is Lantern Men.

I've seen them running around scores of times." SOME PEOPLE called the Lantern Men, Jack-O'-Lantern. A pate eerie light that appeared over bogs and marshes bobbed along like a lantern in someone's hand. What was the strange flickering light? Scientists call it ignis fatuus, meaning foolish fire. It may be something like the phosphorescence that gives the firefly its flashing light. Or it may come from the spontaneous combustion of methane, the marsh gas that burns so easily.

An Irish story tells of a ne'er-do-well named Stingy Jack, who, one Halloween, invited the Devil to have a drink. "If you pay for it," the Devil replied. "But you can change into any shape you choose," Jack protested. "Change yourself into a sixpence. After I've paid for the drink, you can change yourself back." The Devil agreed.

He muttered a spell, disappeared, and there on the counter was a shiny new sixpence. But Stingy Jack popped the coin into his pocket, where a silver cross prevented the Devil from getting out. "If you'll let me alone for a year, I'll let you out," Jack said. THE DEVIL promised, and was released. Jack intended to reform.

But as soon as he was out of danger, he went back to his former ways. The following Halloween he met the Devil on a lonely road. "He's come for my soul!" thought Jack. This time he tricked the Devil into sparing him for 10 years. But before a year had passed, Jack died.

Turned back at the gates of heaven, he made his way to the gates of hell. "Go away," the Devil shouted. "You tricked me, and made me promise not to claim your soul." "But it's dark," said Jack. "How can I find my way?" The Devil threw him a glowing coal. Jack put it inside a turnip.

And ever since, aai Eima Barta celebrates it by rcvealiag Httle-kaowa facta abort Its origia. Ia a piece fUM with trae atoriei that moat admits steal kaow (bit writtea ia a way that caUarea caa eajoy), Ms. Barth ttt bow people atea to worsaip the aeaa Jet 31 aa what weat oa at a witcberjSbbatb. Mi. Barth also aas writtea books ft Valea-! Use's Day ami Christmas.

THE NIGHT of Oct 31 is a time for ghosts and goblins, devils and i demons, Jack-O'-Lan terns, witches and cats. At Halloween it is fun to look frighten-. ing and to be pleasantly frightened your-; self. You know it is make-believe. But the leering devils and all the other Halloween symbols go back to a time when people, young and old, lived in real dread of goblins, ghosts and witches especially at Halloween.

The Celtic people, who lived more than two thousand years ago in what are now France and the British Isles, feared the evening of Oct. 31 more than any other of the year. It was the eve of their festival Samhain, Lord of the Dead. Year after year, on the eve of Samnain, they built bonfires and prepared for the arrival of spirits. In the meantime, a new religion, Christianity, had been born.

In all parts of the Roman Empire, including France and Britain, the Christian fathers did their utmost to stamp out everything pagan, as they branded the older religions. IT WAS hard to persuade the conquered Celts to wipe out their rites and symbols. So the Christian church gave them new meanings and new names. Celtic people who became Christians were told that the fire rites they had held for the Lord of the Dead on Oct. 31 would now protect them against the Devil the enemy of God and the Christian Church.

Ifi the seventh century, the church set asfde All Saints' Day in memory of early Christians who died for their beliefs. All Saints' Day was first celebrated in May, but by the year 900 the date had been changed to Nov. 1. Antoher name for All Saints' Day was All Hallows. Oct.

31 was known as All Hallows' Eve, which was later shortened to Halloween. Halloween was brought to the United States in the 19th century by the Scotch and Irish. And with it came the Halloween witch. THE WITCH is the central symbol of Halloween, and the one with the strangest history. Her name comes from the Saxon word wica, meaning wise one.

Witchcraft began with magic, and was actually a step toward greater knowledge. Early magicians were trying to understand the forces of nature and so control them. They looked to the sorcerers to end dry spells and periods of cloudiness or of too much rain. But, as often as not, the sorcerer's magic failed. Magicians and witches dropped into the background.

Living at the fringes of ancient societies, they told fortunes, prepared Jack-O'-Lanterns, as they do still. At Halloween not only Jack-O'-Lanterns, but also horrible masks are a favorite part of the tun. The witches of the Middle Ages put on masks. And people of the nobility attending a Witches' Sabbath always came masked. Long after the festival of Samhain had merged with Halloween, people of Europe continued to feel uneasy at this time of year.

Outside in the cold were envious ghosts, ready to strike. To keep from being recognized, people who went out after dark wore costumes and masks. Until a few decades ago, boys and girls put on masks and dressed up as ghosts or witches to "scare" the neighbors, but no one went around trick-or-treating at Halloween. Then, 30 or 40 years ago, people began to offer candy or other treats to their costumed visitors. Soon children were knocking on doors and shouting "trick or EACH HALLOWEEN, more and more ghosts, witches, and spacemen appeared with paper bags at people's doors.

Then some children began to collect money for the United Nations Children's Fund. 1 Although the purpose was different, this custom was far from new. In parts of England, the poor once went from house to house, singing and begging for soul cakes or money on the eve of All Saints. Spanish people used to put cakes and nuts on graves after dark on Halloween. The gifts were bribes to keep evil spirits away.

On Oct 31, French children beg for flowers to take to the cemeteries. They want to be ready for AD Saints, the day that follows. Most holidays have both a serious and a lighter side. Halloween, with more ancient beginnings than any other holiday, no longer has any serious meaning. Children have kept it alive because they love it.

DRESSED AS ghosts, witches, skeletons, monsters, or anything else, stand for the ghosts or spirits that frightened people on this same evening long Just as people once offered gifts of food to the spirits, people today offer treats to the children who represent them. The lighted Jack-O'-Lanterns the chO-dren carry are an echo of former Hallo weens. So children today, acting out remnants of ideas that people once lived by, link us with those who came before us and with those who will follow. i i Tab article is excerpted from the book "Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween Symbols," by Edna Barth. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, Hoagatoo Mifflin.

Dbtribatea by Los Aageles Times Syndicate. So, on Samhain Eve, a fire was kept burning, and the table heaped with food. Otherwise, angry or envious ghosts might destroy animals or kidnap children. Hundreds of years after All Hallows Eve had replaced Samhain, people still built up their fires and piled their tables with tempting food. MANY LEGENDS have arisen regarding ghosts.

Children born on Halloween were said to be able to see ghosts and even talk with them. On this night when so many ghosts were abroad, they might reveal themselves to ordinary people, too, and give warnings or advice. Halloween became the night of all nights for divining the future. A Halloween custom of Scotch and Irish girls was called the wetting of the sark sleeve. The girl would wash a fine piece of linen in a running stream.

One hour before midnight, she hung it up to dry before the fire. At 11:30, she had to turn it. At midnight, the spirit of her future husband was supposed to appear. Often, a girl fell asleep waiting, dreamed of the man She takes the leading role at Halloween today. A symbol of the evil spirits once thought to emerge at this time of year, she is an ugly old woman, with matted hair, bony fingers, a broomstick and a cat.

If not scanned too closely, the Halloween witch is Just colorful and part of the holiday fun. Actually, she is a distortion of history and perhaps a disserve to women in their struggle for equality. AFTER DARK on Halloween, flitting from house to house, there are always at least a few figures draped in sheets, white and ghostly against the night. At Halloween parties, it is fun to listen to frightening but thrilling stories. Since we know the ghost in the closet won't harm us, we only pretend to be afraid.

There was nothing make-believe about the fears of the Scotch, Irish and English on this same evening years ago. This was the night when ghosts, the spirits or disembodied souls of the dead, were thought to return to their former homes, looking for warmth and cheer. To displease the ghosts was dangerous, for they could punish you. charms and brewed herb mixtures for various ailments. Several times a year, at Witches' Sabbaths, groups of witches from all over a region of country gathered at a sacred spot.

One of the most important Witches' Sabbaths came at Halloween, the date of early hunting ceremonies, when magicians or medicine men had acted out the capture of animals. AT HALLOWEEN Sabbaths witches did dances to make animals more fertile, dressing up like animals themselves. To encourage fertility in human beings, they danced naked or in their usual clothes. In some of the dances they galloped about straddling branches or broomsticks. Yet witches reamined outside the society, and by the 19th century, few educated people anywhere took witchcraft very seriously.

An English dictionary called it "a pretended magic or sorcery in which our ancestors believed." Meanwhile, in legends, stories, poems, and pictures an image of the witch as we know her took shape. Shop Daily 9:30 5:30 DRAMATIC BREAKTHROUGH IN WEIGHT REDUCTION. Over SO years of fashion Rim Beautifully tailored Coats in fine wools to lucious ultra suedes. We have a Coat to suit your needs. MM I IN 7 MONTHS, jf I LOST 117 LBS.

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