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October 25, 2013

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Page 4 POST-GAZETTE, OCTOBER 25, 2013 The Magic and Mystery of Halloween by Ally Di Censo Symynkywicz -k This the time of year chilly, windswept lands of treating originates from an -/ when brisk, mysterious Celtic Europes. In ancient olden English practice called 4_ ) ..... - times, the Celts celebrated a souling. Children would walk by Sal Gtarratam holiday known as Samhain (pronounced sow-en, where "sow" rhymes with "cow"). Samhain marked the end of the harvest and the summer season, and the beginning of winter. Some scholars theo- rize that Samhain may have functioned as a New Year's ceremony, but in whatever case the Celts believed that the eve of Samhain, our Hal- loween, was a time when the veil between the living and dead proved especially thin. It is easy to see why the Celts associated this time of year with death and spirits. The harvest has been collected, and one could only hope that the community had gathered enough to weather the win- ter. The veil of night falls early upon the world, bathing every- thing in darkness, and the whistling wind and black tree branches add a frightening atmosphere to the evenings. The Celts used Samhain as an opportunity to unite as a community against the su- pernatural beings roaming the world and to practice divi- nation to determine every- thing from romantic pros- pects to the success of the crop. Eventually, the Chris- tian church established the two days following Samhain Eve as feasts of remembrance for departed saints and souls, thus lending Halloween its name -- it comes from All Hallows' Eve J and rein- forcing its connection with death. Several of our beloved Halloween traditions have spooky origins as well. For centuries, the Celts used to carve out root vegetables, usually turnips, and stick a candle inside as a means of deterring evil spirits. Irish immigration brought this custom to America, where the common autumn crop of pumpkin was used, giving us jack-o-lanterns. Trick-or- from door to door on the eve of All Saints' Day or All Souls' Day, begging for treats in exchange for prayers on behalf of the family's dead. They would receive little spice-laden cookies known as soul cakes, which remind me of the Italian custom to serve similar cookies on All Souls' Day. Halloween cos- tumes, now associated with little children dressed as Iron Man or Rapunzel, also contain roots in Samhain, when people wore masks in order to placate or frighten evil spir- its, and to avoid recognition by Death. And lest you believe I forgot the Italian perspective of this column, the classic game of bobbing for apples may have origins in Ancient Rome, where a festival to the garden and orchard goddess Pomona was held around this time. Halloween brims with a rich history and resonates with the themes of death, harvest and preparation. I Find it thrilling to think about stories of the supernatural and the paranormal when I see leaves flying around a cloudy October sky or flicker- ing candles in someone's window. It reminds me that the memories of our ances- tors continue to imbue the world with their energy, and the holidays of this time period seek to honor those very souls. Moreover; be- cause Halloween honors the commencement of winter, it encourages families to come together and gather amongst love, laughter and food. This Halloween, I encourage everyone to spend time with family and friends, com- memorating the importance of the past, the ubiquitous sense of mystery in life and the strong community that will provide strength and comfort in the winter months. energy, evident in the crack- ling of dry fall leaves and the wind that whistles through bare branches, imbues the world. It is the time of Hal- loween, a holiday that has captured our popular imagi- nation and whose spooki- ness refuses to let go, despite years of commercialization. Halloween remains one of my favorite holidays, a re- minder of hearth, home, family and the allure of the past. I shiver with excite- ment whenever I see a glow- ing jack-o-lantern illuminat- ing someone's porch, its eerie grin beckoning out of the darkness. I love looking at the glittery black cat statues and witch hats that line store shelves. I eagerly anticipate the smell of my traditional pumpkin cream cheese bread wafting out of my kitchen, f'fll- ing my home with the scents of the season. These simple pleasures, from sheaves of wheat to scarecrows and pumpkin, form the true core of Halloween as a celebration of the end of the harvest and its ensuing symbolism of death. At its folkloristic core, Halloween stands as a holi- day that honors the dead and readies people for the upcom- ing winter, and these univer- sal themes of mortality and community have been woven together throughout history to create an indelible feast. In modern Italy, everyone knows about Halloween due to the prevalence of Ameri- can popular culture. Decora- tions of smiling pumpkins and screeching black cats adorn shops and city squares; youths attend Halloween par- ties decked out in costumes. However, the main holidays of the dead in Italy occur on the two days following Hallow- een, All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day, which I will speak about in my next article. For the origins of Halloween as we know it, we must move to Ally Di Censo Symynkywicz is a Graduate Student in History at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She appreciates any comments and suggestions about Italian holidays and folklore at Pet Food Drive Don't Forget That Tough Times Impact Them Too! This Thanksgiving make a difference! By donating pet food and supplies, you'll help Freeway support a local shelter. Your generosity can go .......... ..... a long way in supporting the needs of these deserving animals! Drop your donation off at the Post-Gazette 5 Prince Street, North End, Boston by Tuesday, November 26. "There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses." Back during the late '60s and early '70s, I was a col- lege student who protested U.S. policy in Vietnam. In the mid-70s, I protested a federal court order in Boston that created forced btising. In the '80s when Boston City Hall, using the excuse of Prop 2.5, closed down neighborhood firehouses, I helped occupy a firehouse in Charlestown and it never shuttered. Today, I am very concerned by those who have forgotten our American Revolutionary roots. Today's mantra is -- if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear -- as if that is the point. America is supposed to be and was intended by our Founding Fathers to be a democratic republic ruled by a constitution. Our govern- ment was supposed to be a limited one where individual liberties were to be protected at all costs. Folks like Ben Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison knew that government was our busi- ness. Either our liberties were protected or govern- ment would grow and liber- ties curtailed as they had been under King George and the British Crown. Ben Franklin when walk- ing out of Independence Hall in Philadelphia was asked what kind of a government we have, he responded, "A republic if we can keep it." Over two plus centuries, our federal government has grown in both size and power and the impact of ordinary citizens has been diluted. Today, America seems ruled by the trifecta of Big Busi- ness, Big Government and Big Money Back in 1950, Father Keller from The Christophers move- ment warned in a paperback -- Andrew Jackson I re-read all the time that "government was our busi- ness. Either we run it or it runs us." The government shutdown has ended after establish- ment Republicans aban- doned ship and lost all respect from folks like me who think a party should stand up for principles. Republicans like those so-called "Responsible Re- publicans" that President Obama praised such as John McCain and Lindsay Graham might as well switch parties. They caved in and discredited many con- servatives who looked to them for leadership and found them wanting. The shutdown is over and the debt ceiling will continue to rise. Right now the na- tional debt is $16.7 trillion long-term. It takes about 70 cents in taxes for every dol- lar government spends. The can has been kicked down the road to January 15 th. What happens then? Will we just keep kicking the can and never deal with too much spending or will we deal with the problem once and for all? The liberal playbook has become gospel in Washing- ton, DC. They are calling Obamacare the law of the land. The only real law of the land is our U.S. Constitution which liberals are trying to shred apart. When we are talking about Obamacare and the need for it to be further tweaked or delayed, we get called names like "anarchists" or "racists." As a centrist Democrat who values our constitu- tional rights, I can see some liberal statists at work try- ing to target the Bill of Rights. We don't need the . (Continued on Page 15)