Halloween is my happy, happy, happy holiday. There are no emotional ties associated with it, it comes at a beautiful time of year when the air is cool and crisp and usually coincides perfectly with harvest.
Perhaps this is why I enjoy the holiday so much, it is a time to get out and have fun with no strings attached. Very rarely do we have this opportunity.
Halloween originated from All Hallows Eve, meaning hallowed evening. Folks would dress up as saints and go door-to-door, thus the forebearers of the modern trick-or-treaters.
Whether you are a fan of the holiday or not, Halloween has become the second largest commercial holiday in the United States, only surpassed by Christmas. This said, it is rather hard to escape Halloween since decorations representing the holiday adorn most all porches, storefronts and yards.
Still, some people refuse to join in the fun because they believe the holiday has its roots in paganism and is evil. Believe it or not, Samhainophobia is the fear of Halloween and originates from the Samhain custom of celebrating summer's end. This probably isn't as strange as festivalisophobia, which is the fear of the whole Christmas thing!
This season is just too vibrant and fun not to enjoy it, even if you are not a big spook fan. There are still so many fun, family-oriented things to help us get outside and enjoy before winter makes many of us shut-ins.
Consider taking in some of these activities:
- If you are into festivals, the fall season offers a host of them all across the country. In many parts of the country where apples are raised, apple festivals abound. These are good places to pick up some of the fruit for winter, to load up on cider and doughnuts and to check out local crafts and seasonal food.
- If you are not into festivals and crowds, many apple orchards offer their own activities. In many cases you can pick your own apples and then participate in hayrides, corn mazes and scavenger hunts. Many orchards produce their own cider and invite the public to watch this process, along with samples. Besides just offering apples and apple products, many orchards have farmers' markets, which offer all sorts of fall produce such as winter squash, pumpkins, gourds, potatoes and onions.
- What a fun season it is to decorate, even if you opt not to do the Halloween thing. Scarecows are always fun to fashion. A few years ago, my grandsons and I had so much fun "stuffing" old bib overalls with straw, adding an old shirt and pumpkin heads. Our "creations" sat on our outside bench way into winter and then we kindly put them out of the weather so they could grace our spring gardens and go to work scaring critters out of our domain. Thrift store finds are great for these kinds of things. Decorating with pumpkins and fall leaves makes any place look festive.
- Bonfires can please both the Halloween enthusiast and those that are not so keen on the holiday. The bugs of summer are gone (hopefully), the nights are cooler and crisp and a bonfire is a perfect way to casually catch up with family and friends. Some of the best ones that we have had are the last-minute throw-togethers. I'll put a pot of chili and sloppy Joes on the stove, baked beans in the oven and let the rest come together with everyone bringing a passing dish. There is nothing quite like the smoke from a fire, laughter and tall tales from friends and good food. It just doesn't get any better.
- Autumn brings color to just about any part of the country that you are from, to some degree. Even though each season has its own beauty, fall offers brilliant colors that the others can't match. It's a perfect time to go for a drive, especially if it is in no specific direction. Take some of those backroads, you may find some pleasant surprises along the way.
- Take a walk. It's a great time to make use of national, state and local parks. Not only the color, but also the scents of the season will lift your spirits. There is no other scent like the earthy smell of autumn, leaves strewn across your path. On your journey, be on the lookout for pinecones, acorns and even the leaves themselves. They all can be used in wreaths and other DIY fall decorations.
I love all of these things. For me, fall can't last long enough. Perhaps that is why it is such a short season; too much of a good thing makes us enjoy it less.
It seems that everyone is in a little better spirits also. A good harvest, for both farmers and gardeners, is enough to lighten any mood. Just like our forefathers, a good bounty in fall makes for a good winter.
The old saying that "I want it all," well, that is me. I enjoy the harvest and I enjoy Halloween. One year I was the prisoner, clad in jailhouse stripes and ball and chain, while Wyatt was the sheriff.
I do enjoy being scared out of my wits in haunted houses; I know it's not real but I still scream. So, for the next few weeks, it is truly happy time, there is the rest of the year to be responsible and to be serious. Go have some frightfully good fun!
Photo by Getty Images/AlexRaths.