Friday, October 27, 2006

The Importance of Salt

Salutations Fellow Scholars,

Tomorrow is the Second Annual Makeshift Theatre Company Costume Contest! The contest shall immediately follow the production of Snow White and shall be officiated by members of the cast. Christina Davis shall be judging the contest and, although she may not be a scholar, she is Snow White, which thereby certifies her competence in the field of costume-judgery. I heartily recommend your attendance not only because it is riotous fun, but also because I need someone to keep an eye on Nero; he keeps trying to participate despite the fact that this contest is strictly reserved for audience members.

Unfortunately, I shall have to miss the event as I have duties to which I must attend; specifically, I must spread salt across the entire MTC office to ward off evil spirits. Not that I put any credence in folklore of that ilk; it is quite obvious to even the most hopeless layperson that such things as "goblins," "orcs," and "rancors" are, despite Nero's protestations, completely fabricated. The practice of spreading salt, however, is as integral to the celebration of Hallowe'en as the Dewey Decimal System is to the organized classification of literature!

Hallowe'en (the shortened form of All Hallows' Eve, or Samhain in its Gaelic origin) was, at one time, a festival to celebrate the final harvest before the onset of winter; whatever agricultural produce was not harvested before Samhain was then left in the field to appease the appetite of the pĂșca, a terrifying mythological creature of Celtic origin capable of changing its shape at will to the most horrifying thing its observer (or victim) could imagine; tangentially, it is from the word pĂșca that the Irish get the phrase Pooky Night, their present-day pseudonym for the nocturnal celebration.

Hallowe'en did not arrive in America until the mid-nineteenth century, along with a massive influx of Irish immigrants in the wake of the Irish Potato Famine. At the time, Hallowe'en had already been modified from its Celtic origins, and it continued to evolve in American and Canadian culture. One practice that developed during this era was the sprinkling of salt on the heads of youngsters to ward away evil spirits while they prowled the neighborhood.

So, as you can clearly see, salt and Hallowe'en go hand in hand. Why, Hallowe'en without salt is like Christmas without trees! It's like Easter without eggs! It's like Boxing Day without boxes! It's like New Year's Eve without the New Year! So embrace the festival wholeheartedly, fellow scholars, and douse yourselves merrily in a generous helping of iodised sodium chloride!

Just make sure you cover your eyes before doing so; Nero can attest to the importance of that. As I told him after our little accident this morning, "Safety first!" I should probably go see if his swelling has gone down.

Brilliantly Sincere,

Professor Happ
Director of Field Dramaturgy
Makeshift Theatre Co.

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