Saturday, 24 October 2015

Countdown to Halloween: 9 Things I Love About Halloween

You'll always see someone dressed up as a witch at Halloween because they're so closely associated with the holiday. I love books and movies about witches. Being a witch is such a great fantasy, to think that magic really exists and can give you special powers - to do good, of course.

Here are some of my favourite witches.

Terry Pratchett's Granny Weathwax and Nanny Ogg in the Disc World series. They're two such different women - Granny with an inner core of steel who lives an austere life alone in a woodsy cottage and is brave enough to battle vampires and even The Grim Reaper himself - and Nanny, who's been widowed more than once, is a mother and a grandmother, can drink almost anyone under the table, and loves to sing about the sex lives of hedge hogs. Together they make a formidable and hilarious team.

One of my favourite Disc World books featuring the witches is Carpe Jugulum. Here's a quote about Granny that sums her up so well: “Granny was an old-fashioned witch. She didn’t do good for people, she did right by them.” 

The Strega Nona stories by Tomie dePaola, which we used to read to our daughters when they were little. Strega Nona is the name of a folksy, Italian, grandmother-style witch who helps the people in her town with their troubles. She's like a child's version of Granny Weatherwax, a witch who doesn't do fancy magic, but cures headaches "with oil and water and a hairpin." The illustrations are colourful and homey too.

Well, you certainly have your choice of witches in the Harry Potter series, books that our oldest daughter introduced to us while she was in elementary school. Soon my husband was reading them aloud to us, giving voices to the characters that made my daughters giggle. He does a mean Dobby the house elf, I can tell you! Hermione, Professor McGonagall, Mrs. Weasley, Ginny, Dolores Umbridge, Bellatrix Lestrange, and many more. They're a wonderful assortment of characters; good and evil, and weird and wonderful.

The Wicked Witch of the West from the movie, The Wizard of Oz. She was my first encounter with a witch and she scared me silly, as she continues to do to generations of children. Played by the actress Margaret Hamilton, who had to endure that foul green makeup, she got to say things like, "I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!" Brrr. She's the classic evil witch. 

The nose-twitching Samantha Stevens in the 1964-1972 television series, Bewitched. A modern young witch who was a lot older than she looked, Samantha fell in love with a mortal, Darren, and tried to give up magic to live as a housewife in the suburbs. Played by the beautiful Elizabeth Montgomery, Samantha had a lot to put up with - her interfering mother, Endora, who didn't like her son-in-law, a nosy neighbour, Gladys Cravitz, who was always trying to convince her husband that the nice blond next door had magical powers, an adorable but forgetful aunt, Clara, whose spells rarely went right, and a host of other characters who were always creating havoc as they popped in and out of the Stevens' lives. It was a lot of fun to watch when I was a kid.

Gillian Holroyd in the movie Bell, Book, and Candle. Played by the sexy and luminous Kim Novak, Gillian is a modern witch living in New York City with a Siamese cat, Pyewacket, as her familiar. She meets the fiance of an old school adversary and decides to lure him away with magic, only to fall in love with him herself. With a great cast, including James Stewart as the love interest, Elsa Lanchester and Jack Lemon, it's a spell-binding comedy that was released in 1958.

Well, that's just a sampling of witches from the vast number I had to choose from. I hope I've introduced you to some you're not familiar with so that you'll have the fun of getting to know them better yourself. 

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