Wanna know something ironic? I hear the same insanity about Halloween from both religious people and atheists. What?! How does that work? Well, let me tell you. See, when I was a kid, I grew up in the public school system. Every year, at my school, there was a Halloween carnival. We would have all sorts of games and what-have-you going on, and one could get some pizza there too. It was lots of fun. Along with the complete lack of responsibility, it is something I have missed about being a lot younger.
But at these events, there was something I noticed – some of the people who were my friends didn’t partake. Their whole families didn’t get involved. I always thought this was kind of weird. I talked to them, and I found out something rather interesting – their families didn’t celebrate Halloween. When I asked them why, you probably can guess some of the answers I got.
The first set of answers was that Halloween is evil. Even as a kid, I didn’t get that. And the irony – neither did they. They gave me the same lines that their parents gave them. Some said that it was a pagan holiday which celebrated witches (as Christians see them. Actual followers of Wicca are nothing like that) and thus, God didn’t like it. That’s funny, because he doesn’t seem to have a problem with a pagan holiday that was stolen which celebrates the birth of his kid (who is also him).
The next set of answers said that this holiday celebrated demons and Satan and it was a holiday of death, and that is why God doesn’t like it. There is another irony, because every Sunday, he command his children to drink the blood and eat the flesh of a dead guy. Yeah, that’s not creepy and zombie at all.
So yeah, it was a lot of Christian rhetoric that I we have all heard a thousand times. It was dumb, pointless, and made no sense to me. But, I also saw some people who didn’t celebrate it, and these people aren’t the ones I was expecting. There were several atheist families who also didn’t get in the fun. This got me to thinking – why not? It might surprise you that a lot of the answers I got were very close to the ones that Christians gave.
See, many of those that I talked to said that they didn’t celebrate it because it was based on a pagan holiday. Of course, they tried to justify it better, saying that they didn’t want to indulge ancient superstitions. That we were supposed to be more evolved, and grown up past that.
Here’s the thing that both the Christians and the atheists who don’t indulge in Halloween don’t get – it isn’t about any of that. What is Halloween about? Well, it is about a lot of things. First, it is about getting to dress up. When you were a little kid, you played pretend. You pretended to be somebody else, because it was fun. Getting to pretend to be your favorite super-hero, or your favorite movie character. That was a lot of fun, and we all enjoyed it. But as a grown-up, you can’t do that anymore. Well, not unless you want to be mocked and ridiculed like those who cosplay or LARP. But, on Halloween, you are given one night where you can be whoever you want to be. You can play pretend again, if only to look slutty for some, and ridiculous for others (and don’t get me started with the “It’s not a costume, it’s a culture” bullshit. If you want my opinion on that, watch this). But it is a night where you get to have fun, and get to be happy.
Next, it’s about getting to revel in the delight of fear. I have a feeling that the reason people like scary stories is because it pulls you into the story more. Think about it – you always wanted to know what the end of the story was, when you were a kid. You always wanted to know if it was a scary ghost in the house, or if it was just in the imagination of the person’s head. It made you so much more fascinated. I remember the Scary Stories books, when I was a kid. I was scared stiff of them, yet I always wanted to read them. More and more. They were loads of fun. We loved them, my friends and I, and it made every day a new experience. Now, all grown-up, I still love a good scary story. I love it when a story doesn’t try and gross me out with gory mess, but instead, plays with me head. Letting the fear come from a more visceral and psychological place. We like scary stories, and to be afraid, because it is a catharsis for how relatively easy our lives here in the Western World are. We have it pretty damn good, but for one night, we can imagine if things weren’t so good. If they were a little bit evil. And it is a good feeling.
Oh, and finally, Halloween is about the fucking candy! I mean, when you were a kid, what did you dress up for? What did you get in those goofy costumes that your mom and dad thought would look so cute on you and go out around the neighborhood? You did it because there was the promise of candy delight! You wanted candy, to make yourself sick the next day. And you loved every minute of it! So, these Christians who talk about how this holiday is evil and whatever, they are idiots. They don’t get what this holiday is about. And the same for the atheists. I think, people just need to calm the fuck down about stuff. For real, have you ever noticed how uptight people are? It’s like their assholes clench every time they are given a concept that doesn’t mesh with their little view of humanity.
People want the world to fit into a small little box. Dr. House said it best. But the problem is that the world doesn’t fit into that box. The world isn’t as simple as the Christians, Muslims and even the atheists often want it to be. Life is complicated. Life is messy. There are not clear answer to life. But we have to keep on going, because this is the stuff that matters.
Happy Halloween, everybody.
Until next time, a quote,
“Spoken like a true circle queen. See, skinny, socially privileged white people get to draw this neat little circle. And everyone inside the circle is “normal”. Anyone outside the circle needs to be beaten, broken and reset so that they can be brought into the circle. Failing that, they should be institutionalized. Or even worse – Pitied.” -Dr. Gregory House, House M.D.