Tag Archives: Halloween

All Souls Day

Day of The Dead by William Bouguereau (1825-1905) Public Domain
Day of The Dead by William Bouguereau (1825-1905)
Public Domain

All Souls’ Day is to commemorate the faithful dead and is celebrated by special mass by Catholics and some Christian denominations (most Protestant churches do not observe it). Catholics believe there are three places souls will go: heaven, purgatory, or hell. Purgatory is the place many souls end up as they have lesser sins and are not in a state of grace. Purgatory is an essential stage where souls are cleansed in preparation to go to heaven. Unlike hell, where the fire is for punishment, purgatory is a place for purification and repose. We pray that the souls of our loved ones, friends, and others will be allowed to leave and enter heaven on this day. We especially pray for those who have no one to pray for them.

All Souls Day is not to be confused Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) which does remember friends and family who have died but is not a Catholic or Christian religious event(though it takes place from 31 Oct through 2 Nov which coincides with Halloween, All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day).

Suggested Reading

Rutler, George William. 2014. Hints of Heaven: The Parables of Christ & What They Mean for You. Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press.

Van Den Aardweg, Gerard JM. 2009. Hungry Souls: Supernatural Visits, Messages, and Warnings from Purgatory. Charlotte NC: Tan Books.

Thigpen, Paul. 2019. Saints and Hell, and Other Catholic Witnesses to the Fate of the Damned. Charlotte NC: Tan Books.

All Saints Day

The Forerunners of Christ with Saints and Martyrs (about 1423-24)
Public Domain

All Saints’ Day (Solemnity of All Saints, All Hallows, Hallowmas or All Saints’)is celebrated on 1 November by most Western Christians and is to honor all saints known and unknown. In some Catholic countries, it is a holiday. It is a holy day of obligation for most Catholics except when it falls on a Saturday or Monday. In that case it is celebrated on Sunday. Eastern Orthodox is celebrated on the first Sunday after Pentecost and is called All Saints’ Sunday.

Pope Boniface IV formally started All Saints’ Day on May 13, 609 AD. He also established All Souls’ Day to follow All Saints Day. Pope Gregory III (731-741 AD) moved it to 1 November as that was the day the foundation of a new chapel (St. Peter’s Basilica) was being laid. He wanted to dedicate the new chapel to All Saints. Halloween then became part of a three-day period called ‘Days of the Dead” which it is the first day of (the vigil), then followed by All Saints and then by All Souls (those in purgatory). During the reign of Pope Gregory IV (82y-844 AD), he decided to make the feast of All Saints (just celebrated in Rome at that point) universal meaning all dioceses had to observe it.

All Saints  Day is a public holiday in Ireland where all schools, businesses and government is closed.

Happy Halloween!

Jack O Lantern
Petr Kratochvil


Why the Jack O Lantern?

When I was a boy, my father carved some impressive jack o lanterns. It was a laborious task for him, and my mother assisted him. It was a family tradition on both sides of the family. More so perhaps on my mother’s side since she was descended from a man who left Ireland to serve in the Union Army during the American Civil War.

In both Ireland and Scotland, the tradition of a carved lantern came about as a way of warding evil spirits from entering the home. Ireland had the tradition of Stingy Jack, a guy who managed to out-hustle the Devil and made a pact with him that he would not take his soul. Unfortunately, Heaven was not thrilled to admit him, being an unsavory creature after all, and that meant he had to walk the earth unable to enter neither Heaven nor Hell. This put him in the same category as the fallen angels doomed to wander the earth as well as demons, which is not great company to be with.

Ireland had turnips, and they were used as jack o’ lanterns as tradition dictated, they be put in the window or an area where it would be seen. Turnips are not easy to carve for this, so it took some skill and real strength (not to mention patience!). Whatever face you put on it-happy, sad, mean etc.-it was enough to tell Jack to just pass the home by. Alas if you did not do this, Jack might decide to pop in and stay for a while. And that was not good since, well, he was not very pleasant about it.

When Irish (and Scots too) came to the United States they found the humble pumpkin. It was a nice sphere and with different sizes too boot. And carving them was much easier than a turnip. You just had to cut it open, pull out the messy insides and voila! Just carve the face and your jack o’ lantern is ready to go for Halloween. As an added bonus, all those seeds could be roasted and with a little salt be made delicious to eat. And everything else you took out could be used as the primary ingredient for pumpkin pie. In other words, the pumpkin had more than one use during Autumn. As the Irish started putting up their lighted pumpkins, others noticed it and started copying the idea. Soon thanks to word of mouth, newspaper reporting, and clever marketing, people were soon buying pumpkins. Pumpkin growers now had a thriving market for these gourds and has remained popular to this day. In many places (like where I live), there is annual pumpkin festival where the largest ones grown are weighed and awarded prizes. Some quip what do you do with such a large pumpkin? Well Willy Wonka had the answer when he was asked if one of the golden eggs his geese laid cracked open. “An omelet fit for a king sir!”

Many people do not carve them anymore and use plastic alternatives. They certainly last longer but lack the spirit of the holiday. Martha Stewart has a clever way to make your carved pumpkin last for many days. You can check it out here.

Happy Halloween!


Halloween-What it Originally Meant

Halloween Decoration in Fall
Vera Kratochvil

October 31st is set aside as Halloween. It is not an official holiday (meaning government shuts down, banks closed, and many professional offices closed) but is celebrated nearly as one these days. There are really two separate Halloweens, one is secular and the other religious. The secular one most people easily understand. Kids dress up in silly or scary masks and go to homes asking for candy by yelling “trick or treat” to those who open their doors. Pumpkins have become associated with the day along with all kinds of scary decorations as well. Horror movies get shown during this time. Halloween has a religious meaning to that goes back to how the Catholic Church set the day up.

The original meaning of Halloween was All Hallows Eve that got contracted over time to Halloween. All Hallows Eve is the vigil of All Saints Day, a solemnity (meaning a major feast in the Catholic Church’s liturgical calendar). All Saints Day honors all the saints we know by name and any saint in heaven whose name is unknown to us. Originally this feast was celebrated on 13 May, but Pope Gregory III (731-741 AD) moved it to 1 November as that was the day the foundation of a new chapel (St. Peter’s Basilica) was being laid. He wanted to dedicate the new chapel to All Saints. Halloween then became part of a three-day period called ‘Days of the Dead” which it is the first day of (the vigil), then followed by All Saints and then by All Souls (those in purgatory).

All Souls’ Day by Jakub Schikaneder(1855-1924)
National Gallery Prague
Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

During the reign of Pope Gregory IV (827-844 AD), he decided to make the feast of All Saints (just celebrated in Rome at that point) universal meaning all dioceses had to observe it. This meant that people with their own cultures would celebrate in their own ways. Since it was customary to have vigils before a major feast day, there was nothing unusual in this. In celebrating these particular holy days, we are reminded of heaven and hell. It reminds us that we have choices to make in this life that can lead to one of two outcomes: heaven or hell. By striving to live good lives by following God’s teachings, we want to go to heaven rather than the other place.

The roots of Halloween thus are not founded in any pagan celebration (such as Samhain or Druid festivals), and it is just coincidence that it occurs during the same time frame. If you study what those festivals were about, they had nothing to do with Christianity and followed a different belief system. However, some Protestants have made that case (that Halloween was a pagan festival co-opted by the Catholic church for All Saints and All Souls) to deny celebrating those holy days. The Puritans of New England forbade those to be celebrated along with Christmas and Easter. When Catholics from Europe began arriving in America, Protestants denounced such customs (celebrating Halloween, Christmas, and Easter) as pagan.

The English, French and Irish all brought their customs with them. The Irish loved carved Jack-o-Lanterns in turnips (changed to pumpkins since they are easier to carve!). The English had a custom of knocking on doors on Halloween for Soul Cakes and promising to pray for the departed of those who gave them these treats. All of these traditions began to meld here in America becoming the basis of much what is called Halloween today. It was also combined with harvest celebrations as well making it time of fun, spooky tales, bobbing for apples, and enjoying good company. Sadly, All Hallows Eve has been hijacked by those who use it for darker things such as violence, horror, and sexuality. Someone dressing up in sexually explicit garments or glorifying horror is not what Halloween was meant for (either religious or secular).

What has happened is the religious origins of Halloween have been completely overtaken and completely secularized.

That and the over commercialization of Halloween (it is a major marketing season for candy, apparel, haunted houses, and scary movies) has caused many faithful and concerned parents to shun those events and do things differently. That is why you are seeing more family friendly Halloween events and parties where those elements are not present. And doing some prayer in preparation for the feast of All Saints as well. Watching vulgar movies that glorify evil are avoided for ones that show good over evil or just plain fun (like the original Ghostbusters, the Good Witch movies). And telling some excellent ghost stories can also be fun as well.

Suggested Reading

Rossetti, Steven J. 2021. Diary of an American Exorcist: Demons, Possession, and the Modern-Day Battle against Ancient Evil. Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press.

Van Den Aardweg, Gerard JM. 2009. Hungry Souls: Supernatural Visits, Messages, and Warnings from Purgatory. Charlotte NC: Tan Books.

Baker, Robert A and Nickell, Joe. Missing Pieces: How to Investigate Ghosts, UFO’s Psychics, & Other Mysteries. 1992. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books

Thigpen, Paul. 2019. Saints and Hell, and Other Catholic Witnesses to the Fate of the Damned. Charlotte NC: Tan Books.

Countdown to Halloween: The Good Witch (2008)

The Good Witch (Hallmark 2008)
Image copyright Hallmark Channel
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Good Witch was a surprise hit for the Hallmark Channel in 2008. Starring Catherine Bell, the story revolves about the mysterious Cassandra Nightingale who takes residence in an old house reputed to be haunted. She then opens a shop called Bell, Book and Candle that furthers the impression that she dabbles in magic. In the process she befriends the family of the town police chief but has to fight a growing resistance that wants to drive her out of town. By the end she wins the affection of many and ends up falling in love with the police chief.

The Halloween season is often full of scary and these days gory horror movies. Sure, some of the early Harry Potter movies are mostly okay (later movies get more serious and deadly), but sometimes you want a movie that offers something a little different and perhaps has a unique charm about it. The Good Witch fills that bill. The character of Cassandra Nightingale, played excellently by Catherine Bell, is both mysterious and charming in this role leaving you wondering right up until the credits role whether she really is a witch or not.

Her shop, the Bell, Book, and Candle, is a play on a movie of the same name where the main female lead is a witch. And she sells items most New Agers shop for such as natural herbs and powders, essential oils, items from different cultures that have odd purposes (like the dream catcher she gives to the daughter of Chief Russell who is having bad dreams and seeing monsters in them). Yet she does nothing directly to show she is a witch. Chief Russell’s son Brandon wants to punish a bully by turning him into a frog, but Cassie gives him a long list of things he has to do first before his bully transforms (into a goat instead). It forces Brandon to seek out the home of Kyle where he sees he is mistreated by his father. They end up back in his home where, after playing some games and eating pizza, he tells his father what he saw. The outcome here is that Kyle is moved out of that home and that he and Brandon become friends. Oh, and the young girl’s nightmares are replaced by bunnies instead.

The magic here, it seems, is perception, foresight, and suggestion rather than casting spells. She does confront a dog and tells him to back off, which he does, showing she has something but what it might be is never wholly defined. And for a movie like this, delightful. Those looking for the traditional evil and cackling hag that is often associated with Halloween will not find it here. Instead, you get a charming movie with a good cast that entertains in a nice way without overdoing it. It also teaches one should not judge too quickly on appearances either. A good movie to watch with kids this Halloween season.

Countdown to Halloween: Dracula

Ist Edition Cover
Public Domain

Bram Stoker’s Dracula was not the first vampire story but certainly the most memorable. It starts out as Jonathan Harker records his trip to visit Count Dracula about property he has purchased in London. We are given fascinating details of the journey but foreboding as well. Although welcomed warmly by Dracula, he begins to suspect things are not right. And that leads him to discover Dracula is not at all what he seems but a monster that will spread evil into the heart of Europe.

Welcome to my house! Enter freely and of your own will! He made no motion of stepping to meet me, but stood like a statue, as though his gesture of welcome had fixed him to stone. The instant, however, that I had stepped over the threshold, he moved impulsively forward, and holding out his hand grasped mine with a strength which made me wince, an effect which was not lessened by the fact that it seemed as cold as ice–more like the hand of the dead than a living man.

Readers then and now are surprised at how Stoker did not hold back in what Dracula does. Perhaps the most horrific–and rarely seen in film or miniseries adaptations–is when the three vampire women at his castle are given a baby by Dracula as a meal. It shows what truly a monster he is and those that serve him as well. Stoker builds on that horror as Dracula arrives in England to begin spreading his evil. The strange illness of Lucy Westenra brings us the character of Van Helsing who suspects a vampire is at work. And Jonathan’s return helps the group that forms that they are dealing with an evil creature that must be destroyed.

Count Dracula (Louis Jourdan) confronted by Van Helsing
Screen capture from Count Dracula (BBC) on YouTube

But they also fail to see he is already working against them by feeding on Mina, Jonathan’s wife. They get the upper hand though by tracking down all his hiding places to sanctify making them unusable to him. He taunts them at one point and then flees across the ocean back home. The chase to get there before he does is perhaps the most thrilling part of the book. In a dramatic ending, they catch him as the sun is starting to set and he is about to have full command of his powers. The end is quick with a dagger in the throat and the heart. And then he is no more. Unlike some depictions, he goes to dust with just a momentary sight that his soul was at peace now. The evil is vanquished never to rise again.

Bela Lugosi as Dracula
Photo:Public Domain

Dracula spawned other books and movies both inspired or based in some way on the book. The famous 1931 movie with Bela Lugosi cemented a certain image of Dracula that stood out for a long time. Yet except perhaps for the Coppola movie, few show what Harker saw:

Within stood a tall old man, clean shaven save for a long white moustache, and clad in black from head to foot, without a single speck of colour about him anywhere.

Most depictions have no moustache and Dracula neither appears old or young (somewhere in between). They also rarely show the trip to the castle (quite long as Dracula was looking for blue flames to find hidden treasure and his command of wolves). Dracula in the book can get about by day. The myth that sprung up was that vampires had to walk at night. Not so in the book at all. Dracula could get around in daylight, but it constricted his abilities. At night he could use his full range of abilities, but daylight limited him to whatever form he had at that time (he also had to be careful about running water).

Dracula was not conflicted nor concerned about what he became, like vampires in some modern novels are sometimes depicted as. Dracula was a creature of evil that served evil. He had no qualms about killing anyone who got in his way but despite all that, as Van Helsing observed, he was not without weakness. He could live centuries, but he could be killed by staking through the heart or kept at bay with a crucifix. And when confronted with a determined group out to destroy him, he fled back home to live to fight another day.

Dracula stands out as masterful horror fiction because it reveals a story slowly, deliberately, and then like a hammer hitting anvil hits you with full fury. Reading it today is still gripping despite all the movies inspired from it. Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot follows a similar pattern of building the story up slowly until it reveals what the horror is. And it appears Stoker did his research well for he based it on a real historical figure (Vlad the Impaler) who for a time brought fear to Turks who tried to dominate central Europe. He was so ruthless that he made sure that lands were burned, wells were poisoned, and many of their soldiers were found impaled on stakes as they approached his lands.

It is debatable how much Stoker really knew about Vlad the Impaler but learned enough from the information he had to craft his vampire story. And a great one it is that stands the test of time while other vampire stories remain forgotten on library shelves.

Dracula Movies Worth Watching

Nosferatu ( 1922 )
This is one of the earliest adaptations of the book for the screen. Since it was unlicensed, the story was changed (Dracula became Count Orlok) A really fine horror movie on its own. It was remade in 1979 starring Klaus Kinski.

Dracula (1931)
Dracula purists do not like this movie much except for one thing: Bela Lugosi. His performance set a standard for both state and movie adaptations that would follow later. The story is a complete rewrite of the story but has its moments making it worth watching.

The Horror of Dracula (1958)
This Hammer version, while loose with the original story, is well acted. The script is well written as well. Christopher Lee became the new standard for Count Dracula as well with Peter Cushing playing Van Helsing. They both would reprise their roles in various sequels.

Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)
The third in the Hammer Dracula series offers a newer tale and sees Dracula resurrected (he died in the first movie). A good movie, though not as great as the first one. Nearly all the sequels after this one got poor ratings on Rotten Tomatoes.

Count Dracula (1977, BBC)
This adaptation by BBC comes closer to the original story than other productions. Dracula is played by Louis Jourdan who makes a fine outing as the titular vampire. Some weird visuals mar the production, and it looks quite dated by today’s standards. However it is the only one that has the depiction of a baby that becomes food for Dracula’s wives.

Love at First Bite (1979)
This may be hard to find these days, but a great comedy starring George Hamilton as Count Dracula. He is forced to flee his native land when the Communists decide to seize his home. In America he meets a descendent of Van Helsing and falls in love with the character played by Susan St. James. It is funnier than Mel Brooks 1995 movie Dracula: Dead and Loving it starring Leslie Neilsen.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
This is Francis Ford Coppola’s entry into the Dracula franchise. Like everything he does, it is done with style, flare, and good drama. While he does take liberties with the story, it is a well-done production and most certainly worth watching.

Dark Prince: The True Story of Dracula (2000)
This story relates the story of the historical Dracula (known as Vlad Tepes in Romania). And it does show the very difficult times he lived in with Ottomans dominating that area of Europe. It also accurately shows how while he was a hero, to the Eastern Orthodox Church he was less than that due to his viciousness and the fact he converted to Catholicism at one point (a major no-no back then). However, the idea throughout the movie is that he is something unnatural, perhaps already marked by Satan. He arises as a vampire to confirm that pointing out to the very person that he had made it so. When they excommunicated him from the church, he could not enter heaven or hell and now was free to roam the world forever.

Shadow of the Vampire (2000)
This is a movie within a movie with a twist. It is about F.W. Murnau filming Nosferatu but the person he hired to play Count Orlok is a real vampire adding realism to the movie.

Countdown to Halloween: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

The Haunting of Hill House
Shirley Jackson 1959

One of the finest ghost stories ever written was Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. It was made into a 1963 movie The Haunting regarded as one of the best supernatural movies in cinema history. The movie was modestly received when it first came out and scared many viewers. Using cleverly designed sets and distorted angles, the film stands out as a first-rate psychological horror movie that is unmatched. A remake in 1999 starring Liam Neeson, Lilli Taylor and Catherine Zeta Jones did not capture the original film’s essence and failed at the box office. Although the 1973 movie The Legend of Hell House incorporates themes of the Hill book, it was based on Richard Matheson’s book, and he wrote the screenplay. Jackson’s book inspired Stephen King for his book The Shining and later for a made-for-television story Rose Red.

What makes both the book, and the original movie effective is that the terror relies on what the people experience as the entity makes itself known. We never see actually see the entity but certainly its effects as it makes noises, wanders around at night, or writes words on a wall. The group that assembles in Hill House are led by Dr. John Montague who wants to find proof of the supernatural. He is later joined by his wife and friend to also discover the supernatural in the house. The house itself (its location is never revealed in the book, but one can surmise somewhere in New England) has a tragic history of loss and death. The locals stay away from the home and only the married caretakers visit during the day and leave before dark.

Almost everyone there (except for Montague, his wife, and her friend) has some experience with the supernatural. Not long after they arrive at the house, they each begin experiencing supernatural activity of one kind or another. As more of the story unfolds, Eleanor becomes a target for the entity, and she see things or experiences things the others do not. This leads in the book (and more so in the movie) that she is suffering mentally and losing touch with reality. Both her and Theodora see a ghostly picnic at one point, but Theodora sees something bad when she looks back causing her to get Eleanor out of there. What Theodora saw is never revealed, but it must have been terrifying enough. Again, another example of using the people to show the terror but not the entity itself.

By this time Eleanor is beginning to say she is home in that house, so Montague decides it best to get her out. As in both the book and original movie, it ends up in a car crash as the story ends. It is unclear in the book her fate, while the movie is more definite. The chilling ending though in both cases cones from the final statement. In the movie it is done as a voiceover by the actress Julie Harris who played Eleanor in the movie.

Hill House has stood for 90 years and might stand for 90 more. Within, walls continue upright, bricks meet, floors are firm, and doors are sensibly shut. Silence lies steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House. And we who walk here… walk alone.

The entity seems to be the former owner of the house or perhaps a demon that has taken it over. It is never made clear on that point. Other ghosts are suggested but never figure prominently so they could be there or not. It is that uncertainty that makes this such a great story of terror and psychological drama. Well worth reading during the Halloween season or anytime you want a spooky novel, as is the original 1963 movie. Sad to say the 1999 remake is a dud. It totally changes the story, Eleanor, and we actually see the entity (who is very wicked indeed for killing and trapping the souls of children). There is gore in this movie, though not a splatter fest. Liam Neeson’s character is more devious and disturbing in this movie as the person leading up this team.. Only fans who want to see Catherine Zeta Jones prance about in the movie (and unlike the book puts her sexuality on full display) may want to watch it.

Advisory to parents: The 1963 movie is pretty scary. Not recommended for young children (as is the book as well).


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Countdown to Halloween: The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

Common Raven
Common Raven
Source: David Hofmann,Flickr

We begin our Halloween season with a classic. Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven really caught the attention of the public back when it was published in 1845. The narrative poem is known for its musicality, use of stylized language, and its supernatural aspects. A talking raven, a distraught lover, and fallen into madness are the themes of the poem. After its initial publication, it would be reprinted elsewhere bringing him popularity (though he made little money off the poem itself it seems). It remains one of the most famous poems ever written. And made Poe famous.

Sit back and put on some spooky music (a suggested musical accompaniment is below from You Tube) while you read this poem.

The Raven (Edgar Allen Poe, 1845)

Deep into the darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word,
Lenore?, This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word,
“Lenore!” Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping, something louder than before,
“Surely,” said I, “surely, that is something at my window lattice.
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore.
Let my heart be still a moment, and this mystery explore.
” ‘Tis the wind, and nothing more.”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven, of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door.
Perched upon a bust of Pallas, just above my chamber door,
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly, grim, and ancient raven, wandering from the nightly shore.
Tell me what the lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore.”
Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning, little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door,
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as “Nevermore.”

But the raven, sitting lonely on that placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered; not a feather then he fluttered;
Till I scarcely more than muttered, “Other friends have flown before;
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.”
Then the bird said, “Nevermore.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master, whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster, till his songs one burden bore,—
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of “Never—nevermore.”

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore —
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

Thus I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl, whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o’er
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee — by these angels he hath
Sent thee respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, O quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!”
Quoth the raven, “Nevermore!”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!–prophet still, if bird or devil!
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate, yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted–
On this home by horror haunted–tell me truly, I implore:
Is there–is there balm in Gilead?–tell me–tell me I implore!”
Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting–
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! — quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming.
And the lamplight o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted—nevermore!


Welcome to October

Photo:David Wagner(publicdomainpictures.net)

October is the 10th month on the Gregorian and Julian calendars. Under the old Roman calendar this was the eighth month and retained its name. October in the Northern Hemisphere begins the full transition to Autumn while in the Southern Hemisphere it is Spring.

Autumn harvests are underway this month with apples, artichokes, cranberries, pears, and pumpkins becoming widely available in many areas. Pumpkins are important this time of year as decorations and the source for pumpkin pie and delicious roasted pumpkin seeds. Octoberfest is a major event in Munich, Germany but has spread into Europe, the United States and South America. It began in 1810 to honor a Bavarian royal wedding and now is in many places like a carnival with rides, lots of German themed food and of course beer. Beer of all kinds, especially craft beers find their ways to such events to be judged. Oktoberfest usually goes from mid-September to October (it used to end on the first Sunday in October) but it usually goes on later these days. One figure estimates the consumption of beer to be around 1.85 million gallons (7 million liters) of beer. Now that is a lot of beer!

Daylight Savings Time comes to an end in Australia and Europe this month. In the United States, that will occur for the last time on the first Sunday in November. Beginning next spring, the United States will stay on permanent daylight savings time year-round from that time on to avoid the switching back and forth. This was done once before many years ago to conserve energy. It was dropped when parents and others complained that year-round daylight savings time means that in some months, you have darkness when kids are going to school.

Of course, the big event in October is Halloween or more properly All Hallows Eve on October 31. What used to be a day to prepare for the feast of All Saints Day now has morphed into an event primarily for children to put on masks and ask neighbors for a treat. Haunted House exhibits are open, hayrides through a haunted landscape, and of course scary movies to watch. We get the obligatory Halloween themed commercials and lots of scary themed promos. Many parents opt to have simpler old fashioned celebration with friends and children assembling for food, entertainment, and of course hearing very spooky stories.