Halloween is the best holiday of the year. I’m not saying that to put down the other great holidays. You got a holiday? I’ll celebrate it. But Halloween is so unique. It’s the one time of year when we’re encouraged to explore the darker aspects of our species. Horror movies take over the multiplexes, store windows are crowded with displays featuring skulls and severed limbs, and thoughts turn to contemplations of death and evil. But not in a completely serious way. It’s mostly for fun. The haunted houses, woods, and cornfields; costumes and trick or treating – they’re the thick veil of commerce and civilization that separates us from actually giving ourselves over to that darker side.
I think a lot of it is tied to the fall season, too. Trees are losing their leaves as the skies turn gray and cold rain replaces warm sun. It’s a reminder of that cycle of life; a nod to our own mortality and acknowledgement that everything eventually dies. What’s better than a crisp, gray walk through a graveyard, kicking the dry, brightly colored leaves as you breathe in their faint, sickly sweet odor of decay on an overcast October evening?
Halloween, curiously, is primarily known as a children’s holiday. I don’t know when the last time was that you dressed up and went trick or treating, but I was sixteen and THAT was like three years too long.
I think the primary difference between a kid’s Halloween and an adult’s Halloween is that kids, no matter what, celebrate Halloween ON October 31. I guess as we grow older we get more flexible. Adults (at least the ones I know) celebrate the Alcoholic’s Halloween, which is the Saturday before Halloween if October 31 doesn’t fall on a Saturday. This is the big night if you’re older than, say, sixteen. You go to parties or the bar. The actual Halloween, for me at least, is usually spent watching horror movies.
Then the next day it’s all over. Time to take the Jack-O-Lantern to the trash and put the skulls and severed limbs back in the boxes. There’s still candy left, whether you’re an adult or kid. And then, suddenly, it’s time to get ready for “The Holidays” and Halloween is a pleasant memory. Why is it that a holiday supposedly about love and peace is so stressful while a dark holiday like Halloween is pretty much just plain fun? What does that say about the nature of human beings? Probably nothing except that we’re suckers for consumerism and commercialism.
Now, that’s scary.