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October 26th, 2020

Whether you choose to participate in Halloween this year all depends on your fear of Covid19 transmission while trick or treating and obtaining food stuffs from others in large volume as tends to occur. The risk is likely to be quite low as the event occurs outdoor and your exposure to any one person will be limited reducing risk tremendously. Couple this with the fact that children that tend to trick or treat are between the ages of 4 and 12 years old which is a very low risk group for developing and or transmitting the virus. Each family should choose to participate based on their personal risk tolerance.

Knowing all of this, let us at least take a history tour into All Hallows Eve or Halloween as it is called now. From the history channel: "The tradition originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints. Soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes and eating treats.

Samhain as noted by the History Channel is a day that marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth."

The story of All Hallows Eve and many other fall festivals were time honored traditions in many early cultures to praise the harvest that was the event that predicted survival of the harsh winter and life in general. Over the centuries as life has become less tied to starvation risk and death, western cultures have coopted these holidays for commercialization and fun. Thus, we have Halloween in it's current form an amalgam of the past and the present gift giving mentality for holidays. It is interesting to me that many of the holidays including Christmas, Hanukkah, and Easter have left their original moorings of faith and honor and are being pushed towards a purely gift giving celebration.

This Halloween you have an opportunity to discuss with your children the early derivations of the holiday and why we celebrate holidays in general. There is much to be learned here that may help ground children to life as opposed to just a candy, gift garnering event.

Dr. M

History Channel