There's no better celebration of any season than the decorated tree adorned with the rich symbolism of nature—my ritual to inform and inspire you in the journey called life.

Friday, October 9, 2009

spinning a holiday web

USHERING IN the holiday season is Halloween. Alongside the shelves of the ever enlarging Halloween merchandise available every October, the Christmas shelves start to fill. There always has to be a trick with a treat to keep good little boys and girls in line. The Christian co-opting of these holidays had a lot to do with this. Several of the oldest European Christmas traditions seem more like Halloween traditions—tricks for bad, treats for good. The old-world traditions were modified to keep the sins of humanity in check in the Christian world. The meaning and symbolism depends on how you look at the magic and mystery of the holiday season that begins with All Hallows Eve. Halloween has its roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain (a celebration of the end of the harvest season) and the Christian All Saints' Day. Although the latter holy day now occurs one day after Halloween, they were both originally celebrated on the same day. But with the blending of holidays one-into-the-other every year, it's hard not to get them all mixed up (like Jack Skellington did—more below).

LEAPING FROM Halloween to Christmas isn't hard web to spin at all. According to German and Ukraine legend, a poor woman was unable to buy decorations for the holiday tree and decorated it with fruits and nuts. Spiders that were displaced in the holiday cleaning of the house spun beautiful webs all over the tree Christmas Eve night. When Father Christmas visited the house, he saw the web-covered tree and changed the webs to silver. Christmas morning, the family awoke to a sparkling tree covered in silver "tinsel." The legend of the Christmas spider is commemorated by placing a silver spider in its web and using tinsel on the tree. The magic of the holiday season is ushered in by the sinister things associated with Halloween (like spiders) every year. The stories have all been modified to fit how one sees best—religious or secular.

IT'S HARD TO to believe the 1993 Tim Burton stop-motion animated movie The Nightmare Before Christmas has already celebrated its 15th anniversary (last year). In the movie, Jack Skellington from Halloween Town opens a portal to Christmas Town and becomes enamored with Christmas, and the fusing of the holidays ensues to great effect. This movie is Tim Burton's best animated film in my opinion. It has a purely magical quality that stands above many of his successive films. It is consistently rated as one of the best Christmas films and  blends the two holidays in an unprecedented way. It's not hard to see how Jack Skellington was inspired by Christmas, even though his attempts are off-kilter because all he has known is Halloween.

HALLOWEEN FESTIVE | (Above, right) The large white pumpkin topped by a bewitched bird is from Ross. Green and orange Polish ornaments are reminiscent of a pumpkin and the calyxes of Chinese lanterns. The cat head noisemaker, along with the pumpkin/lantern ornaments are from Cost Plus World Market, and shown nestled with a real miniature white pumpkin and seasonal gourds (from Publix). The cat head noisemaker's (jingle bells attached with a pipe cleaner) original checked bow was replaced with a bow tied from 'Happy Halloween' ribbon from Martha Stewart Crafts at Michael's (2008). The small bumpy ornaments from Martha Stewart Everyday at Kmart round out this fall-colored collection. 

SPIDER SENSE | A Christmas spider in a large white bugle-beaded web ornament (above, left) was bought from a vendor at Scott Antique Market—I believe it is Czech in origin. The reproduction old-fashioned tinsel garland in a coil is from Bayberry Cove by Bethany Lowe Designs, was marketed for Halloween on one side of the sleeve it was packaged in, and for Christmas on the other side. It is attended to by a cardboard spider silhouette from Martha Stewart Holidays at Target (a test market?). The tiny orange and black Halloween baubles are from Border's. 

collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland

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