Pick a costume — but witch?

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By Trellawny Graham

Trick or treat.  Shoe my feet.  Dress me up on Hallow’s Eve.  Costumes roam o’er here and there.  Witch and ghostly underwear.  But what should you be?

Whoever came up with the myths and legends explaining why we get dressed up in costumes on the 31rst of October, on Halloween, All Hallow’s Eve, All Hallow E’en, All Saints Day — on that day — left out the guidelines for what we might become that night.  Sure they give us the happenings of the time and dawning of traditions (like costuming), but they leave out what is often modernly believed to be the most important part of today’s Halloween: what do be?  What to be?

In the modern spirit of costuming, you could dress up as a Jack-o-lantern if you wish to portray a wandering soul unable to find hospice in either heaven or hell because of a devilish deed you, like Jack, did in life.  Jack, as his haunting legend goes, duped Satan into climbing a tree and then trapped him there with a quick-handed cross carving in the trunk.  Jack let Satan down in exchange for the promise that Satan wouldn’t seduce him ever again.  When Jack died, he was allowed into neither world (Heaven said he was too evil in life and Hell didn’t like him because of his little joke on Satan).  Instead, Jack was given a turnip with a burning ember to light his way through darkness.  In portraying Jack, you could lead little “fools” (unsuspecting children) into the forest and say that you are only acting in character as the police haul your decked-out ass off to the slammer — you’ll get to wear a real high fashion costume there.  Maybe Jack-o-lanterns (modernized by Americans, pumpkins were used because they are more plentiful, bigger, a better colour, and cooler than turnips) are around to remind us not to trick the devil.

Or you could be a witch.  Yes!  Be a witch!  A European Dark Age witch, no less.  After all, witches are believed by some to be the founders of Halloween at a time when they Christian church supposedly went on a rampage destroying pagan temples, resulting in the heathens turning into witches that liked to party (at Sabbaths).  You could wear black while riding on a broom stick, cauldron of yummies strapped to your back, your black cat on your shoulder, and hat on your head of wiry hair while you yell out spells on the day of your Black Sabbath.

Let’s band together, dress up and trick-or-treat like we’ve just attended a pagan New Year’s feast in Ireland.  These feasts supported the idea that ghosts flew around the house while living people were enjoying New Year’s food and the company of their ghostly guests.  To please the spirits they would costume themselves in ghoulish and goblinesque uniforms and run around the town leaving treats for the dead and making sure nothing spooky was happening.  It was then that goblin little kids who liked to romp around being evil runts threatening tricks on those who wouldn’t give out treats.

Ghosts, goblins, witches, and ghouls don’t cut it now.

The spirit of dressing up in costumes to commemorate Halloween, an occasion that has some of the most entertaining origins I might add, has skyrocketed in the modern spooky world.  Here in Toronto, the top costume stores report their most popular items this year are Dorothy and her chums from the Wizard of Oz, sexy witches (the witches then were NOT sexy), and the sexpot Catwoman.  This year you’ll probably see everything from a sheeted ghost to a sexy nurse to a big fuzzy ram (hmmm).

Spook ya later.

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