It is Hallowe'en, which is an abbreviation of All Hallows' Eve. All Saints' Day or All Hallows' Day is on 1 November of the Roman Catholic calendar. This is a day set aside to honour all the dead saints. The night before, however, evolved into a time to honour everything evil. I am not going to give a history of Hallowe'en here; if you're interested, here is an excellent website.
I am going to talk about the current celebration. Dressing in costumes is the biggest deal. Traditional costumes are things such as devils, witches, ghosts, skeletons and the like. Modern costumes might be anything - from space aliens to monsters to royalty. Little girls often favour the princess or the ballerina. All dressed up and then what?
Most kids love Hallowe'en.They get to go trick-or-treating, which is simply going from house to house, knocking on the door. When the door is opened, the children shout 'Trick or treat!' The adults are expected to make over the kids, complimenting their costumes and pretending not to know who they are. Then they put candy in the containers the children have brought for that purpose. The name, however, means 'give me a treat or I'll play a trick on you. I don't think that's taken very seriously, though, as I have always ignored Halloween and no one has hassled me.
Parties are also popular for all ages. One traditional Halloween game is dunking for apples. Apples are placed in a tub of water. Hands behind the back, the person is supposed to use their mouth to retrieve an apple.
The haunted house is another Halloween favourite. The point here is to scare people. In a darkened room, a person might put their hand into a bowl of pealed grapes and be told they're human eyeballs. Or long, cooked, oiled pasta might be 'intestines. Human skeletons might jiggle around. Blood-curdling screams are heard. You get the idea.
Often teenagers light firecrackers and smoke bombs boom bombs are much in evidence. Our neighbourhood tends to look, sound and smell like a war zone.
It is also a time when a lot of inhibitions are loosened. Alcohol is consumed in great quantities. Murders, rapes, muggings and other violent crimes abound. Across the street from us lives a 'man' - I call him 'the maggot' - who tried to rape his next-door neighbour girl last summer. He hasn't been around much; everybody knows about it and he isn't safe around here. Nobody, including me, will have anything to do with him. Her brothers beat him up rather thoroughly, but stopped short of killing him. I have no idea how his court case is going, but the charges against him - attempted rape, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, supplying a minor with a controlled substance, supplying alcohol to a minor - are serious enough to send him to prison for many years. I am very apprehensive as to what may happen to his house next Wednesday.
I hate Halloween.