Every coin has two sides, thankfully. On one side, At Quaquanantuck is firm in the belief that social media—born of the unholy union of the internet and the smart phone—and reality television are perhaps the most significant contributors in history to the downfall of civilized society. The flip side, meanwhile, is that the internet has certainly made all manner of research a snap, especially for the intellectually curious who are also devotees of instant gratification.
It is this ease of investigation that allows At Quaquanantuck to offer some thoughts about contemporary holidays and the so called holiday season that started last night on All Hallows’ Eve. As with so many holidays on the calendar, both religious and secular, the original intention of setting a day or days aside for contemplation and celebration has become either muddied, forgotten or simply disregarded, typically in favor of providing a boost for commercial interests.
Underneath all the contemporary trappings, candy and costumes, All Hallows’ Eve, after all, is only the first of the three days of observances that are meant to make up the Western Christian tradition of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed.
Although there is still some disagreement, there are a number of indications that the Christian observance of Allhallowtide grew out of the ancient Celtic tradition of marking Samhain, the end of the summer season and the harvest positioned on the calendar on November 7, a date midway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere, at the beginning of the season of darkness. At Samhain, it was believed that the ancient gods known as the Aos Sí needed to be propitiated to ensure that the people and their livestock survived the winter.
At Samhain, the souls of the dead were also said to revisit their homes seeking hospitality. Places were set at the dinner table and by the fire to welcome them. As Wikipedia so helpfully points out, “The belief that the souls of the dead return home on one night of the year and must be appeased seems to have ancient origins and is found in many cultures throughout the world. In 19th century Ireland, ‘candles would be lit and prayers formally offered for the souls of the dead. After this the eating, drinking, and games would begin.’” Games like bobbing for apples and “guising” (wearing masks or disguises), of course, continue to this day.
The point of this research is simply to point out that, while feasting or ritual meals are typically associated with many holidays, at their core these observances are meant to be less about consumption and partying and more about spirit connected to experience. At this time of the year, as at the secular Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in January, Presidents Day in February, and Memorial Day in May (to name a few) the original idea was to come together in the spirit of remembering and honoring the dead and the faithful departed, along with their accomplishments and sacrifices and the gifts they shared with us.
At Thanksgiving, we are meant to come together in the spirit of gratitude; at Christmas, beyond and as a part of the religious observance, we champion and aspire to peace on Earth and goodwill toward our fellow humans. At New Year’s we join with friends and dear ones to look back and let go of the past, with love, in the spirit of embracing the future and a fresh start. The pattern that emerges, in religious holidays across all faiths and in secular holidays alike, is of people coming together to create and to celebrate community, sharing our humanity and the connections that bind us all, together, to the human experience.
As At Quaquanantuck shared last year during the holiday season, the troubled and troubling times we live in and the challenges of what lies ahead seem to cry out for one unifying spirit for all holidays and all seasons: honoring the past and what it can teach us, always grateful for the many blessings we are often too quick to overlook, and committing ourselves to the idea of coming together, in peace and goodwill across all viewpoints and ideologies, for the greater good of all humankind. It is only by honoring and celebrating community and our common interests that we have a chance of finding a peaceful and productive way forward. It’s not possible to spell community without unity.
A Halloween case in point offers yet another opportunity to applaud the Quogue Volunteer Fire Department, whose members consistently call us together as a community, at different holidays and at the annual Open House. It is no accident that the volunteers so often focus their celebrations on that element of our community assigned the highest priority by all of us: the children.
Above and below, scenes from Wednesday evening’s QFD Ghost Parade on Jessup Avenue. —A. Botsford Photos
At Halloween, it’s the Ghost Parade; at Thanksgiving, it’s the Sunday Pancake Breakfast; at Christmas, it’s Santa’s Visit; Easter brings the Egg Hunt (or perhaps scramble is a better term); the Open House has fire engine rides, training fire hoses, and exciting demonstrations; back to school brings Fire Safety instruction. At Memorial Day, the solemn ceremony at the monument in front of the fire house ensures that we will not forget the fallen and their sacrifice just because barbecue season has returned. This year the QFD will graciously play host to Quogue Library programs during the renovation and expansion project.
Time and again, the men and women of the department remind us of what’s important, what we share, and what we have to be grateful for. They do their training and volunteer their time not out of any obligation but freely and willingly. Their spirit shows us the best of what we can be, all in honor of the community they serve.
Critics and Audiences Cheer for “A Comedy of Tenors”
The Hampton Theatre Company production of Ken Ludwig’s “A Comedy of Tenors” earned praise from critics and audiences last weekend.
Lorraine Dusky writes in The Southampton Press that the show is “an overturned barrel of frenetic fun” and “an overall delight.” Bridget LeRoy raved in The Independent that “the plot twists are plentiful, the farce elaborate … there is laughter at every turn, and the audience was in stitches for most of the evening.” In the East End Beacon, reviewer Beth Young called the show “quick-witted, fast-paced and quite funny.”
To quote only one audience member, Janet Feeney, “‘A Comedy of Tenors’ was a wonderful and funny play. I would definitely recommend seeing it! I didn’t want it to end!”
With several characters returning from “Lend Me a Tenor,” Ludwig’s Tony Award-winning sendup of the opera world, “A Comedy of Tenors” follows the fortunes of four tenors, two wives, and three girlfriends as they struggle hilariously with outsize egos, mistaken identities, bedroom hijinks and madcap antics in preparation for a concert at a soccer stadium filled with impatient screaming fans.
Visit hamptontheatre.org for details or to purchase tickets, or email email@example.com for more information. To reserve tickets now, visit www.hamptontheatre.org, or call OvationTix at 1-866-811-4111.
The HTC and the Quogue Club are offering a Lunch and Theater package on Saturday, November 10, with lunch at 12:30 at the Quogue Club prior to the 2:30 curtain for the matinee that day, all for $65 (tax and tip included). To reserve, send a check for $65 per person to Hampton Theatre Company, PO Box 400, Quogue, NY 11959. Include your name, address, phone number and email address so that you can receive tickets by email; reference “November 10 lunch/theater event.”
“Spotlight” Featured at Library Film Feast November 3
On Saturday, November 3, it’s time once again to join friends, neighbors, and other cinephiles for an evening of fine food and a terrific film at a Film Feast at the Quogue Library. The selection for this feast is the 2015 feature film “Spotlight.”
The Academy Award-winning Best Picture film follows The Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team, the oldest continuously operating newspaper investigative journalist unit in the United States, and its investigation into cases of widespread and systemic child sex abuse in the Boston area by numerous Roman Catholic priests.
Based on a series of stories by the “Spotlight” team that earned The Globe the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, the film was released on November 6, 2015, by Open Road Films and grossed $98 million worldwide.
The feasting begins at 6:15 and the film will be screened at 7:15. As always, admission is a beverage to share and a dish that serves at least six. Best to call the library at 631-653-4224 to let them know you’re coming and what food you’re planning to bring.
Weigh-In Slated Saturday for Quogue Library’s Great Pumpkin
The great pumpkin outside the Quogue Library’s Campaign Headquarters at 4 Midland Street will be weighed at 1 p.m. on Saturday, November 3.
With more than 30 residents submitting estimates, the live weigh-in will determine who guessed the closest weight and will win a luscious Briermere pie. Meanwhile, all those who are interested in knowing the weight of that huge harbinger of autumn will be invited in to share in some pie, cider, and answers to any questions they might have about the library.
All are welcome for the gathering from 1 to 1:30 p.m. this Saturday at 4 Midland Street.
Last Chance for Enchanted Forest Trail Walks
Children ages 2 to 7 accompanied by an adult will have one more chance to enjoy the Enchanted Forest Trail at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge this year: on Saturday, November 3.
A QWR guide will introduce the little ones to whimsical, fun, and educational characters on the forest trails, and the parking lot/staging area will have lots of games and activities for the small fry. All are invited to wear their Halloween finery if they like.
Reservations are required and the fee is $10 per person; call 631-653-4771 to reserve a time slot. For more information, visit quoguewildliferefuge.org/events.
Veterans to Be Honored at Quogue School Assembly November 9
Following the Quogue School PTA’s Safe Halloween Fundraiser for the 106th Rescue Wing in support of a soldier seeking treatment at the Elk Institute, the Quouge School would like to honor any and all veterans in the community at the school’s November 9 assembly.
Veterans are asked to contact, and families are invited to submit the names of veterans to be recognized—even those who have passed on—to firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Quaquanantuck encourages readers to send in news and notes and photos of interest to Quogue residents, even if the items are being sent from winter addresses or other parts of the country. Friends and family who enjoy all things Quogue are encouraged to email AtQuaq@gmail.com and ask to be put on the mailing list.