Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Border Crossings

To continue my thoughts on Halloween street life: Halloween is one of those mystical juncture points where the dimensions of time and space are shifting. The ancients believed that the boundaries separating the human world and the world of spirits became thin, so there was a lot of spiritual border crossing going on. It’s interesting to note that the modern American practice of Halloween gives children a chance to transgress ordinary boundaries, because they’re able to be out on the street after dark, they go right up to the front doors of houses they would not normally approach, and they dress up in costumes that allow them to act out their fantasies.

The impression this type of boundary crossing made on me is impressed as my first memory of Halloween: my parents, for some reason, were driving around just after dark on Halloween night. Too young to trick-or-treat, I was staring out the window, marveling that all of these strange looking people were all over the streets of Detroit at night. I could tell that they were mostly children, so it was all the more astonishing that they could actually be walking in the street at night, (and we lived on a busy road). At the same time, it wasn’t entirely clear to me that this crowd was made up of ordinary children and adults, and not some kind of magical beings.

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