I’ve thought for a long time that “the holidays” are what helps us North Americans (and others in the Northern Hemisphere) fight back against Seasonal Affective Disorder – the holiday lights keep us from getting depressed after the summer sunshine is gone. The holidays start with Halloween, and that’s one of the things I like about it (although there are at least ten more):
1. Jack o’ Lantern as an art form – Here’s an art genre for you: carve a hollow vegetable into a work of art that involves light from the inside and typically has a theme of horror, and will start to rot within a week or so. I like to use power tools, like a jigsaw and an electric drill, to add an element of drama (and loud noise).
2. Children in costumes – Halloween is most definitely a holiday for children, but they will come right to your door to show you their costumes (whether you want them to or not).
3. Costumes as an art form – Those of us who have children, or are invited to masquerade parties, get another opportunity to express our creativity. My idea for an adult costume, a bicycle racer with syringes and blood bags hanging off of his arms, has not gone over too well …
4. Candy – Yes, candy.
5. Halloween videos – Can’t, absolutely can’t write this post without mentioning “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” Just can’t. On the big screen, there are movies like “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
6. Seasonal beers – For those of you who are fans of craft beers, you can be almost 100% sure that your local brewery will have a seasonal pumpkin ale or something similar to get you in the holiday spirit.
7. No gifts. Even department stores haven’t yet started pre-pre-pre-holiday sales, or mounted holiday decorations before you’ve gotten the artificial cobwebs out of your trees. Your only obligation, should you choose to accept it, is to dole out piles of candy to those sweet little goblins, Avengers, and Spidermen that appear at your door.
8. It’s ecumenical. Like Thanksgiving, Halloween is a holiday that can be celebrated by everyone. Though some consider it Satanic, I fail to understand how streets or parties full of children and adults dressed, often badly, as their favorite superhero or Presidential candidate could possibly reflect the worship of evil to any serious person. Halloween is all in fun. Try to take it that way.
9. There’s no snow on the ground — at least, not usually. Hallow’en is celebrated while the air is crisp but, typically, still mild enough not to require a parka or boots. Leaves are still on the trees, you can just begin to smell wood burning in neighborhood fireplaces. It offers no lyrical waxing about sleigh bells, silver bells, or jingle bells — just hayrides through scarecrow-guarded fields and an occasional bob for apples.
10. Haunted houses, prisons, or mental hospitals. Halloween provides innumerable opportunities to have the bejeezus frightened out of you. If you like to be terrified, now’s your chance, and you can often do it in the most unpleasant surroundings imaginable. Creaky old mansions, converted penal institutions, places with straightjackets and handcuffs and maniacs — oh, my! — have been repurposed into sites where ordinary people dress up as zombies, monsters, vampires, and mummies to frighten other ordinary people for a small fee.