Tech + Lifestyle

games, gear, and googleplexes (joke)

In Favor of Halloween

This piece was first published on Blogcritics.org. You can find my original article here.

Soon it will be that particular and unique day of the year in which a certain portion of the population feels oddly compelled to dress up in costumes. They will run rampant through normally quiet and civil neighborhoods, blackmailing innocent civilians into giving them sugary foodstuffs in exchange for abstaining from performing nefarious pranks on them.

I can’t wait.

For those of you who are somehow oblivious to western culture, I am referring to the phenomenon known as Halloween. Little kiddies dress up as ghosts and witches and pumpkins, and sometimes ninjas. They run around collecting an ever-growing stash of candy, and (thankfully) generally refraining from engaging in devilish acts.

Halloween is far from a holiday for kids only. Adults will oftentimes indulge in costuming as well, though the effect is markedly different. Little candy is consumed, and instead all manner of morally questionable activities occur, typically with a measure of mischievous glee.

Although modern-day Halloween is a unique beast, like most holidays its roots can be found in pagan religion. In Gaelic culture, it was believed that the dead caused problems for the living during harvest. Masks were used to hide from evil, bonfires were lit, and small offerings of harvested produce were made in an effort to appease the dead. Interestingly, the name is not pagan, but instead originated in the term “All Hallows Eve,” referring to All Hallows Day (now All Saints Day), a religious holiday which was celebrated the following day.

As far as I’m concerned, this tradition of pretending to be someone you aren’t and engaging in aberrant behavior is one of the best things that humans have ever thought up, coming in right behind cable television and potato chips. Temporarily taking on an alternate persona allows for a great deal of creativity, both in children and adults. Don’t kid yourself – we might as well call it National Make-Believe Day, because that’s exactly what we’re all doing. We all engage in role-playing for an evening.

Last year, I was a Smurf (from the cartoon) for Halloween. There was a lot of falsetto singing and high-pitched talking involved. About a gallon of blue paint was employed as well. Good times were had.

There are some who don’t like Halloween. They’re afraid of it. They think that the devil is extra active on Halloween, or some similar nonsense. Many a school and/or ultra-conservative community has banned Halloween in favor of having a so-called Fall Festival, whatever that is. As far as I’m concerned, a Fall Festival is just Halloween stripped of its soul.

The whole point of Halloween is to temporarily remove many of the rules that govern society. For kids, that means a night of nothing but candy for dinner. For adults, social rules are lifted. Skimpy clothing is, for one night, perfectly normal. Wild behavior is looked on with humor, not horror. On Halloween, I would think nothing of a man walking around in an evening gown and juggling small dogs. Any other day of the year, I’d probably lock my door and call the police.

Essentially, we are all agreeing to simultaneously take a vacation from reality, to let our proverbial hair down and have a good time. You might compare it to a vacation taken from a nine-to-five job, only with chocolate and a conspicuous number of superheroes and cheerleaders.

If you are somehow still clueless, allow me to spell out what is involved in a successful Halloween. There are three simple steps. Seriously, if you can’t handle this, you’ve got problems, and I mean the kind that only a certified professional can help you with.

First, you will need candy, and lots of it. Chocolate is a good place to start. If you’re feeling adventurous, branch out into hard candies, or gum, or even fruit snacks. Kids love fruit snacks. Whatever your weapon of choice, get lots of it. I’m talking mountains of candy – pounds and pounds of the stuff. You’ll make every kid on the block very, very happy. Also, don’t wait till the last minute and end up handing out cough drops or peppermints or something. A woman did that once to me when I was little. I think I bit her.

Next, choose a good costume. Let’s not have any of this cliched stuff like firemen or nurses or anything. Get creative, preferably in either a scary or funny direction. Make a pop culture reference. Use self-deprecating humor for inspiration; can you guess why I was a Smurf last year? Check my last name. Be the physical representation of a bad pun, if you absolutely must (you wouldn’t believe how many people think that “white trash” is an original costume). Whatever you do, try to avoid store-bought costumes. No girl wants to show up to a dance in the same dress as someone else, and you should feel the same way about your Halloween costume. Creativity is key, folks.

The third and final ingredient of your Halloween is a deceptively simple one: wreak havoc. I’m not talking about the destruction of property, although many a thoughtless individual engages in such behavior for the holiday. Just go somewhere, anywhere, outside of your comfort zone. Be spontaneous. The point of the event is to let loose, to try something new, and to act like somebody other than you. Toward that end, think of your costume as a different personality. You might be surprised where it takes you.

Once you’ve implemented these three elements of Halloween, you’re off to a good start. If it’s a challenge you’re looking for, I’ve got one word for you: decorations. Take that in any direction you want, though it may be advisable for your costume and your decorations to have some sort of similarity.

No matter how you end up celebrating Halloween, remember to maintain a fun and laid-back attitude toward the whole thing. Fun as it may be, don’t get caught up in scaring the little kiddies, don’t go on a chocolate binge, and don’t try to one-up your friends or neighbors for the sake of being the best. Just let those creative juices flow, and have a good time!

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October 21, 2008 - Posted by | Humor, Personal | , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. I’m still trying to understand Halloween well enough to explain it to people from other countries. It seems to defy description.

    Comment by Candy Molds | October 22, 2008 | Reply

  2. Nice article..! Halloween, holiday observed on the evening of October 31 in most areas of North America and in some areas of Western Europe. The holiday is symbolically associated with death and the supernatural.

    Comment by Mariela | October 24, 2008 | Reply


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