A little-known fact about bitcoin’s history is the very significant date of Bitcoin’s white paper – Halloween’s October 31st 2008. On that day, a pseudonym made the now famous announcement to the world:
“I’ve been working on a new electronic cash system that’s fully peer-to-peer, with no trusted third party.”
Undoubtedly, Nakamoto knew the significance of his discovery as attempts to find a solution to the double-spending problem had been ongoing for decades. One can argue, therefore, that the date was intentionally chosen, especially when combined with another significant date, January the 3rd 2009, the day bitcoin’s genesis block was mined.
Old Gods and New Stories
Halloween is an ancient tradition with its underlying story and metaphorical message found across the western world, albeit at different dates and in different expressions. The burning man festival, for example, which has attracted much attention from Silicon Valley tech elites, and numerous European traditions that have bonfire at its heart, share much with Halloween’s underlying message of birth and re-birth, a message found throughout history.
Such as during ancient Britain when the New Year was celebrated on November the first, rather than January the 1st, making October 31st New Year’s even when they celebrated the year that had just passed through metaphors about ghosts and the dead to make the passing of the year – a symbolical death itself – feel more real. Equally, the burning man festival, although perhaps not consciously, celebrates the changing strength of the sun from its highest point to the coming winter, with the burning, in transforming matter, signifying death as well as making way for a re-birth.
The Greeks, in one of their gods, Dionysus, had a more elaborate symbolic message.
A son of Zeus and the queen of the Greek underworld, Dionysus had to face the wrath of Zeus’s jealous wife who attempted to kill the child by sending Titans to rip him to pieces after luring the baby with toys, but Zeus turned the Titans into dust with his thunderbolts. Only after, however, the Titans ate everything except for the heart, which was saved by Athena. Zeus then used the heart to recreate him, making Dionysus “the twice-born”.
A Story of Birth
The metaphorical teaching of all these stories is that of birth, re-birth and, for the Greeks, an added second chance or birth. Death, where it is used, acts only to give way to the new, making the stories, in their foundation, inspiring and liberating. Dionysus specifically, one of the most popular Greek gods, symbolizes freedom and, in being given a second chance to live, indicates the failure of dictators to tame the people’s free spirit as, although they might briefly succeed, they are never able to get rid of its foundation, the heart, allowing freedom to gain roots once more.
Equally, the fact that Halloween continues to survive to this day and remains very popular is a testament to the wisdom of the ancients for people have retained its liberating message despite millennials long attempts to co-opt it into a “cult of death” as some, such as Ayn Rand, have called monotheistic religions and their dictator god.
Nakamoto, therefore, in choosing October 31st, the old New Year, and 3rd of January, sufficiently close to the modern celebration of the New Year, clearly seems to have communicated the birth of a new system, paradigm and, perhaps, freedom with Bitcoin’s ability to return exchange into a peer to peer direct value transfer providing its own uplifting and liberating story, as well as its own ghosts and nightmares. One of them told Reuters today which revealed the Bitlicense whitchedry that undoubtedly keeps many businesses awake at night.
There, in the endless halls of bureaucracy, businesses go to die, old prophecies say, especially during Halloween, when the dead come at night. So give them food to keep them away and hold them off until tomorrow when a new ancient year is born, bringing new opportunities and a new re-birth.
Images from Shutterstock.