Whichever way you look at it Halloween is a very strange event. The encyclopedia says that it is an old Druidic ritual, but I don’t know any Druids in our area. They must be hiding behind those masks. Two thousand years ago, back in the old country, before they all migrated to Long Island, the Druids used to celebrate Halloween as the day of Samhain, Lord of Death.
This is the traditional season of sociability, when meals at home become more than simple refueling stops. Friends will be invited to dinner, and the family, and a few ghosts and vampires at Halloween. It all has to happen around the dinner table during the festive season. Then we can go back to pizza and sandwiches in the New Year.
When Christopher Columbus landed by mistake in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492, I'm sure he had no notion of Columbus Day being "observed" more than five hundred years later - no notion of the sales, the bank and post office closings and general inconveniences that would be visited on his remote descendants, just because of his bad navigation.
We just celebrated, or perhaps forgot to celebrate, an important moment in intellectual history. Denis Diderot was born on October 5, 1713 in France. This may not seem like the most dramatic piece of news to hear on a Monday morning three hundred years after the event, but every time Mr. Google, Wikipedia, or any of the online search engines answers one of our questions we are benefitting from the genius and determination of Denis Diderot.