I played an exotic gypsy on more than
one occasion! Even reprised the role
for a PTA Carnival!
Why has Halloween been so popular?  Why have I enjoyed it over other fun times of the year?
I recall as a child the eager anticipation as the trees turned to gold, scarlet, and brown beneath an October sky with a unique clarity and a deep azure color. The time of fall festivals, bags of candy, parties, hayrides, mad leaps into piles of crackling eaves, and lots of plain fun.
The inspiration for dozens of daring deeds and funny pranks from older adults and siblings and delightful shivers danced up spines as scary stories and stupid jokes were shared around glowing jack-a-lanterns.
There was the giggling excitement of heading to the local Woolworths or Ben Franklin to see the long rows of shiny boxes, each with a small window of hard cellophane revealing wondrous masks for fairies, heroes, and animals. The hard decisions that followed: would it be the exotic gypsy fortuneteller or the Little Red Riding Hood, or maybe the Monster, Clown, or a Spaceman this year?  
Every child readily over looked the shortcomings of the mandatory accompanying acetate satin costume (always for some reason with sparkles detailing the seams and adding details to the costume).  Too short or too long, what did matter? 
It was Halloween!
Halloween and numerous rites of passage lay ahead with each new turning of the season. 
Arcane knowledge and childhood rituals passed from generation to generation: look for the sacred light of welcome (the front porch light casting its feeble glow), look carefully before you cross the street, and always, always say “Thank you.”
Anticipatory huddles preceded the event on playgrounds, street corners, and in back yards.  Skills were shared in excited whispers, but ultimately it was a lonely hero’s journey to be faced in solitude. A rite of passage was learning to walk boldly up the forbidden zone of someone’s front porch, climbing nervously the steps illuminated by glowing jack-o-lanterns knocking on a door that stood ten feet tall.  
A soft childish knock, a stuttering “trick-or-treat!” followed by smiling faces, mock looks of surprise or fear at your dime store or homemade costume. The handfuls of goodies dumped into plastic pumpkins, paper bags, or mother’s second best pillow cases.  Squeaky voices excitedly calling “thank you!”   Children rushing back to the sidewalk to catch up with friends. Voices mingling in squeals of delight, as they compared their booty, and autumn joined in blowing chill kisses and swirling her colorful skirt.
Halloween is a distinctly American holiday. It’s taproots stem from ancient rituals and celebrations. The manner in which it developed was unique and reflected the “melting pot” s many cultures met and mingled.
As the celebration changed, one element remained at the core : the festival belongs to the land of the imagination: that rich, fertile soil from which all creativity stems and innovation flows.
Although every decade saw some threat to produce a “Year without a Halloween”, sanity prevailed and the joys of this special rite continued, changed perhaps by contemporary influences, truncated through modern fears, but it remains as a reminder that people – of all ages – need magic, mystery, and hours of simple fun.
The answer to my question was clear - Halloween was a holiday of the imagination, of play, and stepping outside the confines of the ordinary into the extraordinary. No wonder I have always loved it!

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