BONES, SKELETONS & SKULLS – Where does one look in order to flesh out the connection between Halloween and the powerful symbols of bones, skeletons, and skulls? Well, we can certainly trace it back to various ancient cultures “Day of the Dead” customs. The Celts referred to the skull as the house of the soul. Bones have been used for thousands of years in divination rituals. Frankly, there is just no getting around the fact that seeing our internal DNA scaffolding is an unsettling reminder of our own mortality – Hamlet, Horatio and poor Yorick will be glad to fill you in on the philosophical implications.
Why even the Grim Reaper is reduced to wearing a designer “flasher-style” trench coat, complete with matching hoodie, in order to keep us from seeing his bony altogether. He is the very embodiment – better make that framework – of what potentially awaits all of us when our spirit departs this mortal plane. For many, it is a humbling and unsettling to contemplate the skeletal structure that gives our bodies its shape. That is right, we saw you squirming in class the day your seventh grade science teacher forced you to watch programs on digestion and the skeletal system. Your attempts to disassociate yourself of any similarities between the kids being x-rayed while they chomped on apples and chugged down pints of milk were entirely unsuccessful.
There is just no denying that bones, skeletons, and skulls are tangible reminders and eerie symbols of disease and death. Heck, just look at poison warning labels and pirate flags – not to mention poison pirate flags made of labels – these are all stern signs to beware danger lurks here.
Not all images of bones, skeletons and skulls evoke fear. In Mexico, the annual “Día de los Muertos” (Day of the Dead) is celebrated with vibrant and colorful portraits using these symbols. The spirit of this festival is to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. Sugar skulls, as well as the departed loved one’s favorite foods and beverages, are left at their gravesite as gifts of remembrance.
So no matter how you like to recognize Halloween, there is bound to be a way to bring your own skeletons out of the closet for them to reflect your own style and personality during the Halloween season.