Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Celebrating Blood and Gore

The Christmas Market in Regensburg, Germany.

The synaptic tangent to end all synaptic tangents.

There you go, my intellectual yeomen, ‘Pick the bones out of that’ as they say. Here it is, October the 31st and I open up with a picture of the Christmas Market in Regensburg. I shall leave you puzzling for a while. (Note 1)

According to the Merkin National Retail Federation Halloween remains the sixth-largest spending holiday in the U.S. Merkins are expected to part with $4.96 billion this year, up from $3.29 billion a year ago. $1.81 billion will go on costumes, $1.31 billion on Decorations, a waist busting, tooth rotting $1.57 billion will be shelled out for ’Candy’ and for a reason that somehow escapes me for the moment, $260 million worth of greeting cards will be sent. (Note 2)

It is probably no surprise when you see the money involved that UK retailers have jumped on the bandwagon and the annoying Trick or Treat custom has spread to our streets.

I’m not a fan. In fact, I dislike the custom with a passion. I would shout “Bah! Humbug!”, but that is reserved for another holiday. Instead I content myself with purchasing the cheapest sweets that are absolutely packed with artificial colourings and sweeteners. I then spend the rest of the evening chuckling at the idea of parents trying to prise their kiddies from the ceilings in a vain attempt to get them to bed.

Lobbing an axe into a thicket.

The tradition in Britain is that we are celebrating All Hallows Evening. (Note 3) Of course, in simpler less commercial times, the celebrations were simpler.

The Christian religious holiday falls tomorrow on 1st November when All Saints Day is celebrated.

Another flimsy excuse to include a picture of glamorous young ladies. I believe that this popular pop combo is named All Saints.

Oh well, I better put you out of your misery on the synaptic tangent. In the Calendar of Saints of the Catholic Church, October 31st is the day set aside for Saint Wolfgang - also known as Wolfgang of Regensburg. So simple – yet so, so obscure!

Oh, fancy a touch of sick humour? CLICK HERE or CLICK HERE.

Oh and to prove I’m not a total grump at Hallowe’en, here is a little story I wrote on the subject.

All Hallows Eve.

Gather up your pumpkins, my munchkins. It’s that time again. October the thirty-first, the date you know as Halloween. The evening you dress up as witches and ghouls and ghosts and goblins and things that go bump in the night. The evening you win sweet morsels by chanting ‘Trick or Treat’.

The sound of innocent children fills the streets as you go from house to house gathering the tooth-rotting bounty. Chaperoning parents will give you a smiling escort before returning home to count and share the spoils.

When at last you retire to bed, those same parents will tell you that witches, ghouls, ghosts and goblins are mere fantasy. They will laugh and tell you that there are no monsters lurking in the shadows. They will smooth your brow, twiddle with your hair and tell you what you hear outside is the wind enjoying the freedom of the night.

Well, my dears. Listen to the wind. Hold your breath, lie perfectly still and open your ears. The wind will not be the only thing abroad on what you call Halloween.

You see my candy-filled little ones. Your parents, pull the blinds, lock the doors and stubbornly try to block out this night. They turn up the TV and talk that little bit louder lest the darkness proves them liars.

Your bed seems warm and safe, doesn’t it my darlings? Repeat the word ‘Halloween’. Repeat it in your mind over and over. Halloween. Halloween. Halloween. What a foolish word it is.

Grown ups call tomorrow ‘All Saints Day’; they tell you it’s a Christian festival. Yet they have you celebrate the evening before. Celebrate by dressing up as creatures of the imagination and accepting treats to not play tricks.

I know what you are thinking my pretties. What a strange idea it is to celebrate long dead Saints to minor for a day to call their own. Even stranger that the evening before should be marked with such blackmail.

The adults must really think you have no brain at all. You have seen your local church and you have seen your local priest. Your parents must think you so gullible to believe that a priest would be involved with such shenanigans.

Well my dears; if you were to ask the priest, he would tell you that All Hallows Evening is about remembering your dead relatives. Press him and he will tell you that the dead sometimes return to make their peace with the living. A more somber explanation perhaps, yet it doesn’t explain why your house is so carefully sealed this night.

Think about it my innocent little cherubs. The adults have tired you out by having you rush around after candy. This is to make sure you sleep through the night. They have sealed the house and drawn all blinds tight to keep something out.

Listen! The wind squeals in agreement. The blinds twitch in assent.

You see the Priest and his church have tried to hijack my night. They have failed. On Halloween night I roam free.

I am the Magrog! I am the oldest of the Pagan gods that Christians hoped to wipe from history. Other Gods rolled over and seeped way. I refuse to die.

I am the Magrog! I ride the wind and proclaim my freedom. Strain your ears and hear my call. I am the master of the storm. The wind carries the screams that grown ups try to drown out. The wind carries me in my glory!

I am the Magrog! As I approach in my jeweled chariot, the priest fiddles with his rosary and falls to his knees. He fears that I shall turn the stone of his church to gravel.

I am the Magrog! The six white horses drawing my chariot paw at the wind and cause golden sparks to rain down on hamlet, village, town and city. This is the night I seek out my tribute.

I am the Magrog! This is my Night! As I pass the trees bow down before me. Their discarded leaves leap and dance in the deserted streets.

I AM THE MAGROG! I bring with me the ghosts of your ancestors. See how they scream in anguish as they run before my summoned tempest. See how their eyes scan the earth for souls that failed to hide. Skeletal fingers try door and window seeking out the ill-fitted latch and bolt.

I AM THE MIGHTY MAGROG! THIS IS MY NIGHT! This is my revenge for man’s attempts to eradicate me. The priest may be beyond my grasp. Grown ups might be immune to my call, but I will have my revenge.

So, my dears, enjoy your Halloween. Enjoy dressing up as witches and ghouls and ghosts and goblins and things that go bump in the night. Take pleasure from the sugary rewards of the ‘Trick or Treat’. All Hallows Evening is yours for fun and frolic.

I am the Magrog! Mine is the night! Double check locks and latches. When the wind howls and screeches to herald my approach stay in your bed. If I can reach you, I will surely part you from your spirit.

I am the mighty Magrog! I own All Hallows Night! There is always room for one more tortured soul behind my chariot.

From 14th June, the industry standard Crozzy Standard has been applied to footnotes.

NOTE 1: If you don’t read German, you will be doubly puzzled. I guess there were a number of you who eagerly followed this link to the footnote in the hope that I would be providing a translation. Sadly, I don’t read German either. Click to return

NOTE 2 : The story, in the IndyStar did make me wonder though. It suggested that 34% of Americans (about 100 million people) will dress in costume; 48.6% will decorate their houses; 73.4% (or 225 million people) will be handing out ’Candy’ but amazingly 43.1% will be carving pumpkins. That is at least 129 Million Pumpkins – yet these were not included in the stats. Are pumpkins handed out free for Hallowe’en?Click to return

NOTE 3: The traditional fare on All Hallows Eve being apples. It is said that if you peel an apple so that you get all the peel off in a single spiral thread and then throw it over your shoulder, it will fall to form the initial of your one true love.Click to return

I’m keeping the alternative stress busting tool until tonight is over.

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