I choose to spell Hallowe’en the old way, with an apostrophe that reminds me that there’s more to it than trick or treating and dressing up as ghouls.
All Hallows’ Eve is one of my favourite holidays and it’s particularly special this time, because it coincides with what is actually my favourite day in the year: the twenty-five-hour day. That extra hour is more magical that any spell.
I always resent it when, on every last Sunday in March, the clocks are brought forward and an hour is snatched away from us. Robbing people of time is an act for which there can be no reparation: you cannot give it back.
I guess when the clocks are turned back again on the last Sunday in October, it’s no more than a form of restitution, but for me it always feels like a precious gift, a kind of miracle. Time and again, I hear people talk about an extra hour’s sleep or complain about the evenings suddenly getting darker. I always look forward to it with anticipation, like the opportunity for a new start, for breaking an old pattern, for laying down the foundations of a new one. As for the evenings suddenly getting darker, since I work from home, I welcome them as permission to shut down the computer, put away the books I’m translating earlier, and withdraw into a world where my own creativity can be set free, a world made more possible at a time of year when shadows grow long enough to embrace you and gently encourage you to explore within. Having said that, I remember looking forward to the clocks going back even when I taught and worked in an office. I love sunlight and its slightly brash brightness. I also love the long winter evenings when night becomes a screen on which I can project my imagination.
This morning, I woke up at seven and felt joy and a sense of renewed purpose when I remembered that, as if by some magic spell concocted by J.K. Rowling, it was now only six o’clock. I got up and crept around so as not to wake H., changing the time on all the clocks in the flat with childlike excitement. Then, like every morning, I opened the French windows in my bottega and stepped onto the balcony, huddling in my dressing gown, filling my lungs with the chilly morning air and feasting my eyes on the East Anglian, 180º sky. An hour. A whole hour to use as I like. Such a gift. And on Hallowe’en, too.
Hallowe’en, with an apostrophe. The apostrophe that reminds me that although I will carve a face in a squash (they taste better than pumpkins), it will be a friendly one, because there’s no need for more fear in these dark times; that I will mark this day the way my Celtic ancestors did: as the start of a new year. A year for which there is an extra hour to prepare, the time and mental space to rest, plan, focus, strengthen my intention.
A blessed opportunity to push the re-set button.