As long as I can remember, Halloween has been one of my favorite holidays. I have always been jealous of those lucky people, including my first bf in kindergarten, whose birthdays fall on this particular day. I think my love of this holiday is mostly due to its fun factor. As a child, candy and dress-up on the same day? Have I died and gone to heaven?? As an adult, dress-up and its accompanying mystique still reign high up there on my list of how to have a good time.
I find it so interesting to see which costumes and disguises my friends choose. I think for some of them, this is the only day they have to live out a fantasy character. Hence the closet bad girls choose witches, vampires, and sexy kitties. What does it say when they choose an innocent cheerleader outfit or Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz or Janet from the Rocky Horror Picture Show?? I know some people would say that I’m digging too deep into people’s choices. Maybe. I know some people just choose something cute or fun just because it’s cute or fun. And I know some people, mostly of the male persuasion, who refuse to purchase or wear a costume and then at the last minute grab a lamp shade and a clown nose and call it good. It doesn’t matter really; it’s just totally amusing.
When I was of trick-or-treating age, we used to take shopping bags and hit the apartment buildings down the street. We would run down the hall of each floor, knocking and yelling “trick or treat!” and then run back down as the doors opened and collect our loot. There were years that we filled four shopping bags full of sweets. In those days, people gave the big candy bars; I don’t even think the small ones existed yet. We would dump out our goods on the floor and do some horsetrading amongst ourselves. Then mom would come in and make us do a big pile of the stuff we didn’t like to send to the soldiers in Vietnam. We had enough candy to last to Thanksgiving.
When my kids were small, we had a party every year for a few of their friends: pizza and movies. Then we would, along with several families from the block, walk to about twenty houses nearby. We grown-ups would take along a glass of wine to sip while the kids went nuts. Once they got home, they would dump out their takings and do some horsetrading amongst themselves. Then my husband and I would come along and collect our “mommy and daddy taxes”. They had enough candy to last to Thanksgiving too, and it was all good.
In school, I love to sing Halloween songs and chant poems; teach the children how to make some crafts they can take home to decorate their houses; read lots of books on the topic; and try to keep the kids focused and doing some semblance of learning. The energy they build up towards Halloween Day is quite overwhelming, but I love it too so I get it. On the day of Halloween our school forms up and marches through the streets of our little town, with police escorts on the corners and families members lined up along the parade route taking photos. Beyond adorable. We get back to class and enjoy some treats, and then I send the kids home to really crank up the celebrations. Super fun. Halloween hangover the next day? Not so much.
Halloween is one of those days when the focus is on throwing off the yolk of everyday life and taking on a new persona or at least enjoying a little controlled fright. The religious origins of this holiday are ignored by many, but some cultural and religious groups still take that part very seriously. A meal at family plots in the cemetery actually sounds like a perfect way to spend Halloween.
Why do some of us love to embrace the spookiness of this day? Trips to local haunted houses or hay rides through the woods where we know damned well some freak with a chain saw is going to chase us around holding the bloody head of some poor prior visitor who couldn’t run fast enough- why do we do it? I think it is probably for the same reason that some of us love roller coasters: a relatively safe way to have the crap scared out of you, knowing you will most likely make it home in one piece.
Some people claim to hate this holiday. I cannot relate or understand it…so if you are one of those please chime in and ‘splain it to me. For the rest of you- enjoy this day that celebrates the dead with some ghoulish goodies and some entertaining tomfoolery. Happy Halloween!!