EASTCHESTER, N.Y. -- Giving out candy to kids is one way Angela Pizzarella, Christian Clarke and Suzanne Whittle spend Halloween. As practicing Wiccans, better known as modern day witches, celebrating a day of hope for a happy and healthy "new year" is another way.
"We are just like everyone else," said Pizzarella of Greenwich, CT. "We like to get together with people we care about to celebrate the holidays.
Carrying on centuries-old Wiccan traditions, Clarke, Whittle and Pizzarella will burn a black candle Monday.
"The black candle stands for everything from the old year that you would like to leave behind," said Clarke, who is an Eastchester native. "If you had a bad break-up, are feeling the loss of a job or anything negative, burning the black candle will help you leave it behind you.
Whittle has several celebrations at her store, Traprock Suite, located on Brooke Street on the Eastchester/Scarsdale border. In honor of Halloween, she has sales and events and gives away a black and orange candle to anyone who makes a purchase.
Wiccans call Halloween by the ancient Celtic name of Samhain, pronounced sowen. The holiday embraces ancient traditions. In ancient times, Samhain was the last opportunity to harvest a crop stored away to survive the cold winter months. Another tradition of Samhain was a celebration to honor relatives who died. The Celts are not the only ones who honor their ancestors at this time of the year. That custom is also embraced by Christians and the people of Mexico, who celebrate the Day of the Dead on Oct. 30.
Although a visit from a relative who has passed away can be a little spooky, Whittle said people have nothing to fear from modern day witches.
"I only know two kinds of witches, and I know many, many witches," Whittle said. "There are good witches and stupid witches."
Whittle, who lives in Ardsley, said all witches believe in the law of threes, that is, what you wish for someone else, comes back to you three times. That belief system discourages wishing harm to anyone else.
"You hear people say they would never wish bad on someone else and that is a concept that has its origins in what we practice, a rule we follow as well," she said.
As a practicing witch of more than 20 years, Pizzarella finds that way of life a comfort in a world that she said can be cold and unforgiving.
"This way of life is all about releasing negative energy and doing as many things as possible to bring positive things come into your life," she said.
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