In October, there are still warm days that feel like summer. It is a month of ripening, eggplants, pumpkins and the last of the tomatoes. It is apples and pears and colored leaves. It is a sky so blue and clear, the light is almost liquid. It is baseball playoffs and the World Series.
It is twilight when a plastic bag becomes a ghost. It is frost overnight and sweaters and hoodies in the morning. It is the sound of dry leaves. It is houses decorated for Halloween.
The holiday we know as Halloween is a mash up of pagan, Christian and Victorian customs. The true origins, lost in time, probably had to do with the early twilight, and the end of the growing season, the dying of the year. It was a harvest festival and a time to remember ancestors and honor the dead.
Food offerings were part of the celebration, but the custom of buying candy is a modern thing. I think the concern about wrapped candy really began seriously in 1982, when the Tylenol killer was in the news about this time. Wrapped candy and safety sealed bottles became the norm.
Since then, Halloween candy sales have skyrocketed, along with Halloween decorations, novelties and costumes. There is even a market for pet costumes. Halloween is second only to Christmas in terms of holiday spending.
October is a spooky time of year. Halloween falls about halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. The weather here at the end of October is usually cold and windy, maybe rain, even a chance of snow. It gets dark early, now. The shortest days are coming.
Here are some statistics for Halloween in Chicago–
Chicago Halloween Stats:
Warmest: 84 (1950)
Coolest High: 31 (1873)
Wettest: 2.26 in. (1994)
Rain Frequency: 50% https://t.co/8CsTMqpfb0
— NWS Chicago (@NWSChicago) October 31, 2017
This is what Ray Bradbury had to say about October–
“October Country . . . that country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist….That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain. . . .”
― Ray Bradbury, The October Country
It is said still that at this time of year, the veil between the worlds grows thin, and the spirits walk among us.