Halloween, COVID-19, Wolfgang’s Axe and Apple Bobbing

(“It’s the best I could do on short notice.” (“Cinderella’s Halloween”) 😉 )

Halloween will be different this year.

Mostly because we’re still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. I don’t know what it’ll look like here in Sauk Centre.

Safer Trick-or-Treating

On the ‘up’ side, common-sense advice is available. Like this excerpt from a CDC page.

  • Make trick-or-treating safer
    • Avoid direct contact with trick-or-treaters.
    • Give out treats outdoors, if possible.
    • Set up a station with individually bagged treats for kids to take.
    • Wash hands before handling treats.
    • Wear a mask.
  • Wear a mask
    • Make your cloth mask part of your costume.
    • A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask.
    • Do NOT wear a costume mask over a cloth mask. It can make breathing more difficult.
    • Masks should NOT be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing
  • (Souce: Trick or Treating and Other Halloween Activities; CDC/National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Division of Viral Diseases)

How many folks know where to find the common-sense advice is another topic.

All Hallow’s Etymology and Equinoctial Attitudes

I’m not sure how many folks know that “Halloween” means “All Hallow’s Eve” or “All Saint’s Eve” — or care where the word comes from.

I’m also not sure why some Christians get conniptions about this autumn equinox celebration and its pagan roots.

I wouldn’t expect to convince a tightly-wound zealot that kids wearing costumes and collecting candy doesn’t lead to Satanic cults. I’ll grant that some adult costumes are disturbing. And that’s yet another topic.

October 31 is also the feast day of St. Wolfgang of Regensburg, AKA The Almoner.1

Wolfgang’s Axe

There’s a story about him and an axe, which has nothing to do with Halloween or Carrie Nation.

Seems that towards the end of his life, Wolfgang of Regensburg decided to become a hermit. Probably due to a political situation.

He’d picked a quiet area, but apparently didn’t know exactly where to put his hermit’s cell. So he prayed, threw an axe, and built his cell where the axe landed.

Time passed. Wolfgang of Regensburg died on October 31, 994. A church near his hermit’s cell became a pilgrimage site. Pilgrimage traffic probably accounts for a town, St. Wolfgang im Salzkammergut, that’s been there since at least 1183.

There’s an axe on display in the town that’s billed as being St. Wolfgang’s.2

Apple Bobbing: My View

I’ve read that apple bobbing, a game associated with Halloween, is a divination game.3

That could be a problem. Not because it’s a game. The “divination” part. That’s a bad idea on any day of the year. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2116)

On the other hand, I participated in apple bobbing as a child and youth; and didn’t get a whiff of the ‘divination’ angle.

Maybe I wasn’t paying attention. Or maybe the ‘divination’ thing has faded from our heritage. At least where apple bobbing is involved. And that’s yet again another topic. Topics.

Then there’s holly, mistletoe and Zagmuk; and that’s still more topics:

1 A holiday, celebrations and a Saint:

2 A town and a Catholic perspective:

3 An old game:

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About Brian H. Gill

I was born in 1951. I'm a husband, father and grandfather. One of the kids graduated from college in December, 2008, and is helping her husband run businesses and raise my granddaughter; another is a cartoonist and artist; #3 daughter is a writer; my son is developing a digital game with #3 and #1 daughters. I'm also a writer and artist.
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