What is it About Halloween?

Why do we love Halloween so much? It’s the second biggest – in terms of “stuff” that happens around it – holiday after Christmas. All the decorations, TV specials, food and drink (and candy!) that only comes out in October…. What is it about this one day that has no significant “reason” to exist (like Independence Day) or “cause” behind it (like the spring festival of Easter) that brings out all the Jack-O-Lanterns and Haunted Houses?

Perhaps it’s that the occasion is so attractive to so many people for so many reasons.

Artists get a chance to show off their creativity. Whether creating yard displays or sketching out horrors from beyond, there’s a ready-made theme with plenty of tropes for even a novice to draw inspiration from. And the audience is very forgiving, so you don’t even have to be good at it.

There’s plenty of room for the subset of artists that can be called “Cosplayers”. Those who love the chance to play dress-up and create or wear costumes, and do a bit of acting as well. Not just for Trick-or-Treating or parties; recently cities have been hosting “Zombie Walks” after they found out it was much easier to get people to volunteer to be “victims” in disaster preparedness drills if you put out a call for “zombies” instead.

If you like cooking or coming up with drink recipes, there’s a whole bunch of “spooky” items to play with. Blood-colored cocktails, food shaped like body parts, omnipresent pumpkins….

Horror fans can creep out of the woodwork and enjoy talking and writing about their favorite scary movies while TV networks run “Nights of Fright” specials all month long. They can even debate which TV episodes / series / specials were better, making lists of their favorites.

That leads into a general appreciation of Times Past by what I can call the “Nostalgianauts”. They’ll look at the things of their youth, and earlier. Sharing photos of Halloweens of their childhood, uncovering the Halloween ephemera (decorations and toys) of earlier decades, hunting down the “retro” versions of “old school” candy…

Their love for and appreciation of Days Gone By makes them similar to Folklorists (both professional and amateur). Looking back into our shared cultural past, they find and share the old spooky stories. Whether reminding us about Samhain, collecting local legends, or studying how other cultures honor their dead, they are the ones keeping the holiday fresh.

For others, perhaps it’s the just chance to playact at being “wicked” or “evil”, and indulge themselves by being transgressive and different, even if it’s for just one night.

Perhaps the real reason for the love of the holiday is, as suggested above, it’s the only one without any real reason to exist. It doesn’t come burdened with family obligations (Thanksgiving), significant religious background (Christmas), or boring civic history (Labor Day). You just get to have fun letting your creativity out as you benignly scare the pants off people.

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