Sunday, October 30, 2011

On Ghosts

Ghosts are, without exaggeration, the reason for the existence of Halloween. They are also the reason for all the various “Day of the Dead” celebrations that take place all over the world. They’re also the reason an extra place setting is left out at Passover, why the Chinese celebrate Ghost Day in August, why some Christmas traditions exist, why the Buddhists celebrate Ancestor day and why funeral rites are so incredibly elaborate. They are everywhere in history and part of the traditions of today.

It’s guestimated that roughly a third of people in this country (I couldn’t find statistics on other countries but I’d guess it’s even higher) believe in ghosts. This belief leads people to celebrate them, search for them, incorporate them into their celebrations and traditions, and take vacations with them. There are paranormal societies all over the place. Ghost Hunters, a show about looking for ghosts in various haunted locations, does a live search on Halloween and gets a huge number of viewers for this event every year.

Most families have ghosts stories and even if everyone doesn’t believe them they tend to get told and retold just like the oral traditions that started with the birth of language. It’s not uncommon for people to attribute unexplainable events to ghosts whenever something strange happens. They’ve been the favorite subject of horror movies since horror movies came into existence, more so than the whole of monster lore. They’re around all the time, but especially on Halloween.

Because on Halloween, when the veil that separates our world from the world of the dead is thinnest, they come back. And even though most people don’t know the druish rituals that lead to this great holiday they sense that Halloween is a time for things not of this world. It’s a magical time, literally. There is a feeling that pervades the day, like anything can happen. And if the ghosts can come out and have a grand old time of it then why can’t we?

1 comment:

  1. I would love the Ghost Hunters to find a poltergeist, and then celebrate it with streamers and a DJ.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for your comment! I will love it and hug it and pet it and call it George. Or, you know, just read and reply to it. But still- you rock!