The Other I

October 31, 2009

Halloween History

Filed under: Cultural Differences,Uncategorized — theotheri @ 5:43 pm

I read somewhere that Halloween was brought to America from Ireland.  As a child, I was taught that the beggars represented souls in Purgatory who were going from door to door to ask for prayers so that they could be released in time to get to heaven for All Saints Day on November 1st.  Halloween didn’t make it to England until about a decade ago – brought, I strongly suspect, from America by stores looking for something to fill the retail gap between summer and Christmas.

Gargoyle

106th Street, NYC

My favourite personal Halloween experience was when I was living on 106th Street in New York City.  It was a neighbourhood influenced by Columbia University a few blocks north, and by the ethnic groups which gave the area its quite outstanding neighbourhood restaurants.  There was an edge in the neighbourhood which delighted me.  There was the old lady who sat at her ground floor window and asked passers-by to pick something up for her at the grocery store.  And our bag lady who accosted you if you put your trash into the bin after 10 a.m., when she’d already gone through the garbage on our street.

But for Halloween, the best was our local street panhandler.  He always waited until the morning after the night before, and stood on the corner calling out “Trick or Treat:  Last Chance for Trick or Treat.”

I remember him with such fondness that I wish I’d given him more than my standard quarter.

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