Happy Halloween or Samhain

Actually, Samhain.

I’ve always thought Halloween a weird holiday. Kind of a non-holiday, really. My skeptical disposition toward it began back when I was a kid. Our father made us go trick-or-treating for UNICEF instead of the usual amassing of candy tonnage. Me and my brothers would go house to house with those little orange UNICEF boxes. How depressing.

Knock! Knock!

The door would open and some old kindly lady would stand there, peering at me through her bifocals.

“And what might you be, little boy?”

“I’m dressed up as a Swiss bureaucrat from the World Health Organization. Trick or treat for UNICEF!”

And then I’d hold up that wretched orange box, jingling the change inside to prime her psychology. She’d usually plunk in a coin or two and then hold out the bowl of candy.

“Would you like a Mars Bar as well?”

“Uh, no thanks. The nickel is fine, thank you, ma’am. The starving children in Botswana will really appreciate the half-ounce of gruel you just subsidized.”

We didn’t take the candy because my parents were pretty strict about sugar back then. We only had sweets a couple times a year (birthdays and Christmas), and even then it was only molasses or maple syrup.

Later in life, I actually spent a fair amount of time working overseas for a subcontractor of the United Nations, specifically for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. The amount of graft and waste in that organization is astounding. Very depressing.

Anyway, now that I’ve grown up and become grumpy, I’m even more skeptical about Halloween. I mean, who in their right mind is going to celebrate a day based on the Druidic festival of Samhain? That was a day when the druids, who apparently were pretty frisky people with some odd ideas, celebrated by burning other people alive in wicker baskets and having a lot of sex out in the forest. The way I think, that sounds like a bad combination. Bad for the people in the baskets and bad in terms of pine cones and gorse bushes and other prickly things getting in the way of intimacy. Not to mention the fact that these were obviously crazy people and, as such, they really shouldn’t have been having babies (which I imagine they would’ve brought up to be just as crazy).

Thankfully, the Romans came along and also recognized that the Druids were insane. The governor of England, Suetonius, put an end to most of ’em.

But, here we are, carving pumpkins and traipsing around with our little goblins and ghouls. I have to admit, we carve pumpkins as well in our house, but instead of saying they’re carved to ward off demons, we carve ’em to ward of government bureaucrats.


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