No, the moon is not blue. More like blurry, because of the clouds. But it is called a blue moon (and many other names) when a full moon happens twice in one month. The moon would have to be full on the first and the thirty-first of a month, and that would make it a relatively rare occurrence.
This time, it happens to be on October 31st, Halloween.
Halloween will be different this year because of the ongoing threat of the coronavirus. Trick-or-treating is being discouraged, and to be honest, I don’t want the munchkins coming to my door, no matter how sweet their costumes are. I don’t want to be picking up the virus at the door and then passing it on to my elderly family members.
The kids can have fun in other ways, just this once, until we get the virus under control. I know that missing out on trick-or-treating is survivable because I’ve done it.
So here is my story.
When I was very young, we lived in Germany. On All Saints’ Eve (what we call Hallowed Eve – or Halloween here in North America), my mother took me by the hand and we visited the town cemetery. My grandfather, who had died of cancer at the young age of 75, was buried there. I loved my grandfather and he loved me, so there was nothing spooky about going to visit his resting place. Several other village people were also visiting the graves of loved ones, and most brought candles in coloured glass containers to place on the graves. The cemetery was neat and well kept up. With the many lights glowing on the graves, the whole place was peaceful. I remember feeling close to my beloved grandfather and in awe of the pretty lights. The hushed conversation of other visitors showed their respect for their lost loved ones.
We came to Canada soon after that, when I was six years old. The following year, on Halloween, I heard about all the kids going out trick-or-treating. This would be fun! But my enthusiasm had cold water thrown on it when my mother laid down the law and said, “No child of mine is going door to door begging for candy.”
“But it’s not like that,” I whined. No amount of fussing would change her mind. For the next four years she stuck to her guns and our family became the weird ones that didn’t believe in Halloween.
By the time I was 11, she relented. She was beginning to understand that it wasn’t about begging. My younger brother and I were allowed to go out to a few houses on the block to trick-or-treat.
On the afternoon of the 31st, the radio told of a severe windstorm that was due to hit at six p.m. We didn’t really believe it. Not a breath of wind. We put on our costumes and got our goodie bags ready. As we tried to go out the door at six o’clock, we wondered why it wouldn’t open. We pushed against it and had to get our mother to help. As soon as she opened the door, it ripped out of her hand and slammed against the side of the house. The big windstorm had hit us at exactly 6 p.m. My mother yanked us back inside lest we might blow away, and pronounced, “You can’t go out in this. It’s too dangerous.”
Fast forward to the next Halloween when I was 12. I had grown into a tall skinny girl, but inside that gangly body lived a child who had yet to experience trick-or-treating. We trooped out with our goodie bags, anticipation ratcheted up into high gear. At the first house, we called “Trick or treat.” The owner came to the door and said to me, “Getting a bit old to be doing this, aren’t you? It’s supposed to be for little kids.”
I was glad I had a mask on so he couldn’t see me fighting not to cry.
I never went trick-or-treating again, and I suppose I have a warped idea of what Halloween is about. When I see scary spiders, monsters, ghosts and vampires flitting around neglected cemeteries, it is not something I find easy to relate to. My grandfather’s cemetery was clean and cared for. It had a manicured hedge and clean gravel paths between well-tended graves. It was not a scary thing to visit him. The North American version of Halloween jarred when I compared it to my first experiences of All Saints’ Eve.
Still, customs vary, and I’ve learned to accept that Halloween is not all bad. Most people love it and they are not easily scared by the horror they conjure up to celebrate this holiday.
I don’t like horror shows. They give me nightmares. I’m a wimp. I don’t begrudge others having fun, but I find it hard to get into the creepy spirit.
A tame Halloween is fine for me. Give me the pumpkin pie and a taste of that chocolate bar from the goodie bag, but keep the spiders away from me.
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