28 October 2011

Halloween in New England

I've lived in various small towns and one city in four regions of the US (the midwest, the deep South, the mid-Atlantic, and New England), but it wasn't until I moved to Massachusetts that I saw just how deeply beloved the Halloween holiday can be.  With Mississippi's high concentration of Southern Baptists, there was always a sense of an uneasy detente on October 31--there weren't lots of lawn decorations but there was a proliferation of Haunted Houses.  Wisconsin saw lots of haunted hayrides and pumpkins, of course. I lived in North Carolina during grad school, and I confess those years are sometimes a blur in my memory, but here in Massachusetts the lawn decor reaches new highs each year.  Maybe it's because of the tradition of witchcraft and witch persecution in Salem that makes New Englanders embrace this holiday like no other--that's the only guess I can think of.  So while the rest of the country (at least those parts where I have lived) goes all out for the winter holidays (and let's face it--it's primarily Christmas), here in the kingdom of the yankee, it's Halloween that folks put their efforts into. 

image NOT mine. found at happyhints.com
And I'm not talking about those large, glowing, and expensive blow-up structures that hit the scene within the last 8-10 years or so and which have become increasingly popular with each round of holidays--no, those are for the amateur (and for those with far more money than sense).  I'm talking DIY graveyard scenes and mechanical zombies and grim reapers that actually take some creativity and effort.  There's a house I pass each day on my way to and from work.  They don't decorate for any other holiday except Halloween (a 12-ft diameter peace sign limned in fairy lights all year round not withstanding), but every fall they handcraft a dozen or so ghosts to hang from a tree in their yard, lit up an night with an otherworldly glow, dancing on the breeze.

But just down the street from me there is a house that deserves a little extra recognition.  They've got lots of store-bought items, 'tis true, but they're arranged lovingly in little tableaux in their front yard, and I shot a few photos to share with y'all, taken by day and again at night.  These folks deserve a little recognition, don't you think?

See how they've got the central circle of ghosts dancing around the cauldron?  Two discrete graveyards, a grim reaper, giant spiders, what is quite possibly a banshee lurking in the tree, and even an upside-down spiderweb-wrapped victim hanging from the middle of the doorway?  These folks clearly mean bidness!

As above, but at nightfall

Close-up of Grim reaper, the spiders, and the spiders' victim
Ahhh, yes. That's what I'm talking about.  New Englanders might toss out a few strings of lights at Christmas and consider their work done, but for Halloween they go all out.  I love that. 


  1. What a nice thing for you to do! I agree--they do need some recognition. They've done a great job :)

  2. I live in Maine and you are right, people up north really do get right into Halloween. Personally Halloween has always creeped me out and even as a kid I never participated.

    Doesn't it seem strange though that the areas closest to the Salem witch trials are the most Halloween crazy?

  3. Some of our Halloween decorations got stolen this year...hours after we put them out. I'd love to be able to do this, though.

  4. Love it! As a native New Englander - Eastern Mass - I agree completely. I'd never thought about it, but yes, I can think of a lot more houses in my hometown that go all out for Halloween - and one the next town over that rivals this one for decorations - than I can in my current Virginia town or my college Midwestern town. (I have to say, those same houses that go nuts for Halloween also tend to go crazy for Christmas, too, at least where I grew up.)


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