Young woman sleeping on sofa with book

Are you scared? If I told you that Americans spend a whopping $9 billion on all things related to Halloween, would it cause you to shake in terror? That translates to a mere $75 per person on spooky holiday decorations or costumes, not to mention another $30 on candy! Hey, I have spent my quota, and for any grandchild that might be reading this, I am now over budget.

My youngest grandson, Brandon, has a fascination with all things creepy. The inside of the house has spiders, webs and goblins hanging on every window. My eldest grandson, Sean, has been the master of haunted houses. For five years, he has created the scariest haunted house in his garage that is complete with sound, props and coffins. When grown men walk through his maze of horror, they usually come out screaming with a maniac chasing them with a chainsaw. Oh yeah, Halloween is one long scream.

Boo! Are you a little bit frightened? Better get with the program, because there are lots of reasons to be afraid. Halloween in the era of coronavirus has taken on new meaning. Skeletons hanging with spray bottles marked “bleach” or, better yet, with signs attached to them that say “I forgot to wear my mask” are signs of 2020. 

Plus, there are costumes resembling certain politicians made to look like demons! Halloween has always been closely associated with the dead. Starting in the fifth century, “All-Saints Day” was an observance in honor of saints with one weird twist—it was also the day that disembodied spirits came back to possess the living. 

The poor spirits had only one chance of an afterlife, and that was to intermingle with the living in hopes of possessing a body. People don’t want to be possessed! So, to scare the roaming “body snatchers” away, folks dressed up in spooky costumes and paraded around their villages to drive evil spirits away. Sound familiar?

The early days of “trick or treat” started around the ninth century, when people passed out cakes and candy to beggars on Old Saints Day. In return, the beggars would pray for the souls of dead relatives. It was believed that the dead might be stuck in limbo and needed lots of prayer, so people who passed out “treats” were given prayers in exchange. Let’s just say (because this is a family newspaper and children might be reading this) that Halloween wasn’t always a fun, harmless little holiday. It was a seriously terrifying day of devils, demons and witches.

Now, it seems we are decorating more than ever. We want a “normal” Halloween! I did see an awesome display of a witch propped against a shopping cart, filled with toilet paper. Oh yeah, try as we might, the shadow of COVID-19 still seems to haunt us. Enjoy the day of devils, ghosts and witches. Eat candy. Watch the kids as they stroll up your walkway in their scary costumes. If you see witches congregating, pour yourself a stiff drink, eat more candy and lock your doors. Boo—until next time.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor. Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at judy@judybluhm.com.