Halloween — the word conjures images of plastic skulls, cardboard tombstones and cotton cobwebs. This haunted holiday is unique among all the others in America. Whereas other holidays celebrate love, families, togetherness and even patriotism, Halloween is about celebrating all things spooky.
I absolutely love Halloween. I love all the creative costumes, the candy bags by the pound, the fun horror flicks that flood TV. All of it just brings a smile to my face. But there are those who see this holiday as a macabre mess that’s too scary for kids and too silly for adults. These naysayers think Halloween is a morbid holiday nobody should celebrate, thinking it’s a day only meant to put evil things on a pedestal. These people are looking at Halloween in completely the wrong way.
When I was a kid, there were two main things I loved about Halloween. The first, of course, was all the candy I would get. There was nothing more satisfying for me as a kid then to end a successful night of trick-or-treating with a pillowcase full of candy. The other thing I loved was dressing up as something cool. When I dressed as Dracula, the Wolfman or a mummy, I felt like I became those characters.
As an adult, I still have an appreciation for candy and costumes. However, I have matured and so have my tastes. As such, I have realized that there are more than two reasons to celebrate this holiday.
I won’t deny that part of the holiday is about scaring people. Many people celebrate the holiday by watching horror movies or attending haunted house attractions. People gather around and watch scary movies on TV. It has been argued, however, that the world is a scary enough place without actively seeking out situations that will make you scared. There are terrorists threatening our way of life, contagious illnesses and gun violence in the streets. The world around us is terrifying. Halloween, a holiday that celebrates the scary, can almost be seen as redundant to the naysayers.
While fear is definitely a big part of Halloween, I would argue that being afraid is only half of the equation. Halloween is a time of the year where we can experience some of the scariest things we can imagine in a safe and controlled environment. After all, isn’t it fun to be a little scared sometimes? Of course it is. Life without fear is boring. Seeing something scary gives your heart a jolt, gets your adrenaline pumping, makes you feel alive, even when you know there’s no danger around.
The horror genre is about making people experience fear without the threat to their lives. Halloween is about taking those things that scare us and having fun with them. It’s about a night of looking at terror square in the face, screaming and then laughing about it. It’s as much about the fun as it is about the fright.
Take, for example, Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando. This is a huge event that draws big crowds year after year. People flock to the amusement park and walk through sections that have been taken over by zombies and maniacs. They walk through haunted houses themed after crazy clowns, movie monsters and disturbing dolls. People go there to get scared and, right after they scream, they laugh. They hold their chest, take another look at what scared them and laugh until their eyes water. This is because fear, when you’re not in danger, is fun. Experiencing this fear in a controlled environment can even benefit you by making you look at how you deal with fear.
Sure, Halloween may be a holiday that’s seen as a bit morbid. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a time to celebrate, have fun and gather together with your friends and family. It’s a time to have a different kind of fun than we have the rest of the year. So, tell each other scary stories, wear a creepy costume, and try to keep your spirits up. After all, there’s no other holiday quite like Halloween.