Sunday, October 14, 2012

M Is For Midnight

Not too long ago, I was conversing with a friend, and we got on the subject of 'the witching hour'. No, not the book, the term. While I thought the witching hour meant midnight, she thought it was three in the morning. After a bit of research (meaning googling), I discovered that I was right. So, I did a little dance and one or two fist pumps, then reported back to her. Even though I was correct, three AM is also an important time. This is often called the Devil's hour, as opposed to three in the afternoon, which is said to be when Jesus was crucified.

That said, I don't know if 3 PM is considered Jesus' hour or not. 

But why is midnight referred to as the witching hour? 

Well, it's though to be the time of day when supernatural creatures, like werewolves, ghosts, demons, are thought to appear. Not only that, but the rumour tells us this is the hour in which they are most powerful. It is also said to be a time when black magic is most effective. 

And while I was right about the specific hour, people often use the term 'witching hour' whenever they refer to a time when there is a higher chance of bad luck. 

So, where did this term come from? 

Well, we can thank Washington Irving's short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow for that. This story was published in 1820 and uses the terms 'witching hour' and 'witching time' interchangeably. Both are used to reference midnight. Of course, we all know about the story of Sleepy Hollow and the headless horseman, if not for this story, then because Johnny Depp portrayed a bumbling and queasy Ichabod Crane in Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow. 

And who can forget Christopher Walken as the headless horseman? I mean, the dude only had his head for all of a minute and a half, but the image is imprinted on my memory. Talk about pretty smiles.

To me, there has never been anything scary about midnight. While some people view it as the end of the day, I tend to think of it as the beginning of a new one. In a way, it almost calms me. Usually it's quiet, almost peaceful. Not many people are out. There's no traffic. It's just a nicer time of night. 

No wonder all the monsters choose this time to come out and play. Less humans to be annoyed by. 

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