Recently I learned that dogs are the true creators of Halloween. To fully understand all the details I had to travel back to the days of our wolf heritage.
We dogs are not much different from our wolf ancestors, we want to eat, and for many wolves the only food that was available was lamb. To be able to sneak up on the lambs the wolves disguised themselves in their prey’s wool coats and feasted on them. The farmers, angry that they were losing their flock, took up arms against the wolves.
After months of wolf and lamb deaths, the wolves met with the farmers to work out an agreement. On the last day of October, the wolves would be allowed to hunt the lambs without fear of retribution. For one night they could put on their sheep’s clothing, mingle amongst them, and then attack, carrying them off and stocking up for the winter. In wolf, speech lambs are called weenies. Just before attacking the wolves would remove their costumes and announce “Hallo-weenies!” Hence the present term for the celebration.
As we evolved and became domesticated, we kept our deal with the farmers, except for some rogue dogs, who would attack indiscriminately, and be ostracized from the pack. Every Halloween would give us dogs the right to poach the livestock. Other animals joined in our agreement. Suddenly there were chickens in the hen house, dogs and cats disguised as raindrops falling from the sky, mice dressing as fish out of the water, and cheery turtles impersonating happy clams.
The farmer’s children saw how happy we were and wanted in on holiday. Soon, while we were dressing up like farm animals, they were costuming themselves as ghosts, goblins, and Ted Cruz. Of course, we were jealous, because the lambs were more scared of a nine-year-old dressed like Ted Cruz then they were of us in lamb clothing.
As we became more domesticated our need to feed ourselves lessened as did our desire to wear costumes on Halloween. We passed our right to dress up and have access to other people’s food to the children. Now we wait inside the warm house while the children wear lightweight costumes in the cold and shiver as they take the homeowner’s food.
That is the story of Halloween. Now it’s a night when children dress up in frightening costumes, and the sheep sleep easier.