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Happy Halloween! How's your Memento Mori?

Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Oct. 31, 2020
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Halloween, aka Eve of All Saints, is a Day of the Dead.

Days of the Dead exist in nearly every culture. There's the famous Dia de Muertos from Mexico, but there are also less known ones.

For example, in Greece we got “Soul Saturdays” which are basically two Saturdays a year commemorated by the Orthodox Christian Church where a remembrance prayer and ritual takes place for all the souls of those who have passed, to ensure that even those who don't have loved ones to have such prayers held for them privately, and all those who are missing, got lost at sea, fell in action, or otherwise have perished without being retrieved, get two. They are always related to Easter Sunday and come one before and one after that. They are also considered the two Saturdays where the dead leave the underworld to walk among us all during Lent and Easter, then the second one when they return to the underworld, awaiting the Second Coming to be resurrected.

Halloween is said to have started off in similar fashion, until more elements were added after the 18th century- but it never stopped revolving around death, has it?

Even in the most fun way, it's about ghosts, and the occult, and death in a variety of ways: the threat of it (serial killers/ predatory creatures/ costumes that imply a life threatening situation/ etc), the experience of it (skeletons, decay, the unknown, ghosts, etc) and those who somehow defeat it, wield it or defy it (the undead, witches, vampires, and so on).

It's a fun time where in a roundabout way we contemplate our own mortality, isn't it? By reacting to scares, by joking about deathly situations, by making ourselves up as a corpse, and so many more.

And in a way, I think, that Halloween is a great Memento Mori to have: for what better way to acknowledge the fragility of life and its inevitable end by looking at it in the eyes and laugh?

This is my take-away as an outsider looking in at Halloween and all its iterations.

What does Halloween mean for you? Do you think there's a memento mori in Halloween for you?

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comment

anonymous?

Avart at 12:34AM, Nov. 1, 2020

Halloween for me it's a day that reminds me all those things as a child, 'trick or treat' from house to house, with family or friends. Mostly funny, but at some point, things aren't now as they used to be when I was a child. I'm from Mexico, so the real deal is the Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) in November 2nd. But in the city where I live, Monterrey, as we are close to the border wih USA, this tradition isn't too strong or at least as popular as Halloween. I think it could sound a bit dumb, but if you see the movie 'Coco', you could understand better the meaning of this day for us. Great article!

hushicho at 8:35PM, Oct. 31, 2020

I don't think it's necessarily that sort of thing, but if that's what you get out of it, that's good to learn and to take that with you. If anything, I think it gives us comfort when the veil between the worlds is thinnest, and we can -- if we let ourselves -- see glimpses of wonder and promise of more to the cosmic fabric than this. Most people don't really take the time to contemplate the day or its nature. I think it ends up being a good thing if we can just consider some of the things that have happened in the past year and the people important to us. This day, in older times, used to be the end of the year. Let's step forward into a better new one.

PaulEberhardt at 9:22AM, Oct. 31, 2020

To me Halloween is mostly some good and quirky fun, and I love it for this very quality. The way it laughs death and fear in their face by having fun with their symbols is an affirmation of life more than anything else. Traditionally, children in my region used to dress up as cattle herds and angels and go from door to door on St. Nicolas day (December 6) to threaten you with Christmas carols - some even not shying away from using recorders - until you come across with the sweets. Now that was creepy! (jk) But Halloween has kind of replaced it here in the past few years. My personal memento moris are varied and with me all the time, the feeling that it's suddenly autumn again when summer seemed just a moment ago would be one example, or the realisation how damn long ago it actually is that I perpetrated carols on a recorder myself. ;)

Scott D at 7:01AM, Oct. 31, 2020

For me, Hallowe'en is what Christmas is to a lot of other people. It's the event I look forward to the most all year, and it's been commented on that it's when I'm at my most animated. I don't really share a lot in common with other members of my family in terms of interests, tastes, and hobbies, but it's something close friends and I share with great aplomb. It's a day when we get to wear our weirdness and macabre proclivities most proudly. I'd love it if I could have my decorations up for two weeks.

usedbooks at 3:44AM, Oct. 31, 2020

It was always my sister's and my holiday. Dad loved it most when we were kids, dressing up and doing weird dad things, taking us trick-or-treating. But when we outgrew that, our parents both participated in big church events (special treat bag giveaways for kids), leaving sis and I home by ourselves. We had very few visitors on our street, so we'd watch MTV (later Ghost Hunters) and enjoy each other's company. When they became a thing, ghost story shows were my sister and my shared activity. Sis is still a Halloween lover. She throws big parties every year and dresses her whole family up to fit a theme. (Addams Family this year, I think.) So, Halloween will always be connected to my sister, even when she's not around.


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