Eighth-graders get into the spirit
Chances are that sometime tomorrow Vineyarders will catch a glimpse of Barack Obama knocking on the doors of Islanders, along with Sarah Palin, the cast of "High School Musical," Spiderman, monsters galore, and some Red Sox players.
Halloween (the name stems from the Catholic Church's All Hallows Eve) has Celtic origins that date back 2,000 years, yet it is one of the most popular modern holidays in the country, and has become a billion-dollar business. It originates from Samhain, the Celtic New year, a fire festival when the boundaries between the natural and the supernatural were suspended.
Photos by Sam Decker
While Celts did not believe in evil demons or devils, they did believe in mischievous fairies who lived among the dead in mounds (sidhe) scattered around the Irish and Scottish countryside. The fairies, who resented the land being taken over by humans, devised tricks to play on the night of Samhain, when all the hearth fires were extinguished. It was the beginning of winter, the dark magical time, when the dead communicated with the living. To discourage visitations from the ghoulish spirits, the villagers would extinguish the fires in their homes, making them cold and unwelcoming. They would costume themselves in frightening disguises and parade around the neighborhood to frighten away the ghouls who looked for bodies to possess.
All of which might explain why Hannah Montana will probably be going from door to door in Edgartown. Right?
During a recent visit to Robyn Wingate's eighth-grade class at the West Tisbury school, plans were being made for just how to stave off goblins and keep the candy coming.
Kelsey Dandeneau decided that her favorite costume was Dracula's daughter, one she wore when she was younger. "I looked distressed, and it was really cool," she said. "I had a spider in my hair." This year, Kelsey is taking the high-fashion route. "I'm going to wear a black leotard with white designs. My hair is going to be poofy. It doesn't have a name, but I saw this wallpaper in Vogue magazine, so I came up with the costume."
An inventive George Rancich remembered, "One time I put on a chicken mask and dressed up like the grim reaper," he said. "I called myself the grim chicken. This year I'm going to be Richard Nixon. I just thought of it. I saw a picture of Richard Nixon and I thought he looked cool."
Joey Uva takes a simple approach. His favorite costume is Dracula, while Devon Webster prefers dressing as Eor, the lovable donkey from "Winnie the Pooh," and Sage Goodwin was eight years old when she dressed as a Chihuahua, her favorite costume.
Harry West is taking the easy way out. He said, "I'm going to be a football player because I'll just be coming out of practice Friday night."
And Zachary Smalley explained, "I was a ninja for a long time. I just used a suit and a mask."
Ben Dwane agreed: "My favorite costume was a ninja turtle. The one that carried around a big stick."
Brad Segel admitted, "Usually I stay home and eat candy. I'm going out this year because we have our England visitors."
There were plans for everything from fruit to nuts. Eamon MacKenzie said, "I'm going to be a banana this year. I'll order the costume online," adding, "I think my favorite used to be a vampire. I liked it because I freaked people out." And Kevin Burchill said, "Last year I was Superman, and I went around to people's houses and did the [rapper] Soulja Boy dance."
Many in the class were making their costumes. Paris Bermudes said, "We're all making witch costumes," but she remembered, "When I was little, my mom made me a lion costume when I was like three. It had ribbons in the mane."
Sammi Chaves, who also plans to disguise herself as a witch this year, described her favorite costume. "I wore a blue wig, a fake fur coat, and snakeskin pants," she said, explaining she was a pop star.
Add another O to pop and you'll have Kip Cooperrider's costume, sure to keep the goblins at bay. "I was a poop one year, a large piece of poop," he explained. "I had a brown costume, and I had peanuts and corn stuck on to me."
And on goes the sampling of what Islanders can expect when there's a knock on the door tomorrow night. Happy trick or treating.