Thursday, November 1, 2007

It is all about ghosts

Now Halloween is finally over; it is time to reflect.

For years I have subscribed to the conspiracy theory that the Halloween trick-or-treat custom, just like the X'mas gift giving, is merchandized by giant corporations like Hershey's to advance their financial interest. [Did you know Hershey makes about 80 varieties of candies and snacks, etc. with almost $5B revenue last year?].

Yesterday afternoon, I put out 320 pieces of candy of all kinds, totaling over 10 pounds, in a large bowl at our doorstep with a sign - "Happy Halloween, Please help yourself". To my surprise, before dark, they were all gone! I swear some kids must have taken many more than 1 piece of candy (since the neighborhood has no more than 100 kids/youngsters) - not very civil behavior as far as I am concerned. Since we can't bear the shame of not having candy for those legitimate night "ghosts" who came late, we pretended we weren't home and didn't answer the doorbells. This definitely made us feel very uncomfortable; after all, this is our castle!

So who got this nasty idea of extorting treats like this from innocent guys such as myself? I started to wonder. I googled and found out something I bet none of these kids, roaming around the neighborhood in costumes with sweet tooth, know nor care! Halloween was originally a pagan holiday over 2000 years ago. It is on the last day of the Celtic calendar and is for honoring the dead. Like many customs that are fed on superstition, a part of the Halloween celebration involves offering gifts and treats to the roaming ghosts. In many ways, this is not all that different from the Chinese Ghost Festival (Zhong Yuan Jie 中元節 ) on 7/15 of the lunar calendar although the Chinese one was much more related to Taoism and Buddhism. Interestingly, Christians apparently have created the All Saints Day following the Hallows Eve in an attempt to convert pagans. I suppose it was not as successful as some had wished!

I already figured out my solution to my dilemma for next Halloween - I will put an empty bowl at the door step with the same sign. Or better yet, I will put a bowl of Chinese "ghost money" to bribe my little ghost friends next time.

Talk to you soon!

No comments: