Macerata Mercoledi: HalloweenHappy Halloween from Macerata!
Halloween is a great holiday, and I love celebrating it here in Macerata, teaching my students about it, and learning about the history as well. It takes on a special meaning here--where it's something almost new, and every English lesson I do, talking about the Festival of Halloween, I learn something. Therefore, this week's edition of Macerata Monday has been moved to Wednesday: making it a Macerata Halloween!
This year's celebration means a Halloween party at the English School where I work, as well as dinner out with friends before hand. As soon as we get to the party, we're going to change into costume: ears for my black cat costume, my friend's wig and pointed hat for her witch's costume, and plenty of makeup for whiskers and noses and green witch skin.
I'm not much of one for dressing in costume, and normally I tend toward simple, non-scary subjects, but this year I'm determined to honor Halloween at its historic level. After doing day after day of lessons about Halloween, I've learned why we dressed up in the first place. In Celtic times, 2000 years ago, people believed that the 31st of October was the day in which the separate worlds of the living and the dead became one, and the dead found themselves moving about among the living. As this was a scary concept, the living came up with a great idea: "Why don't we DRESS like the dead on that day, and then maybe they won't know the difference--they won't be able to tell who is living and who is dead, and therefore, they won't hurt us!" So costumes meant zombies and witches, goblins and ghosts--anything that kept the dead guessing, so that they wouldn't come out and harm anyone--they'd be too busy determining who was alive and who was dead. Definitely a different mentality to today's trick-or-treaters dressed like princesses and hobits.
Another great thing I learned this year was that, when Halloween was celebrated in Europe, they didn't use pumpkins at all, but instead they used turnips. Yes, that's right, I said turnips! Can you imagine? A bumpy little root vegetable, all purple and white, with a little scary face carved into it? When the holiday arrived in America, there weren't a lot of turnips, so they turned to a plant they had on hand: the pumpkin. Lucky for us--I like my jack-o-lanterns carved into pumpkins just fine.
So Happy Halloween to you! There's a little article that quotes me (the American living in Macerata) that came out in today's Il Resto del Carlino:Macerata, if you want to check it out (although I can't seem to find it anymore!). In the meantime, I've lit my jack-o-lantern, and we're waiting before dinner for some trick or treaters to come by. The lights are on, the jack-o-lantern is glowing, and across the street kids are starting to filter in, asking for their "dolcetti o scherzetti." Who knows if they'll stop by here, too?
Have a great Halloween!