Halloween: The most honest holiday.
My love for Halloween borders on the scary, for such is my devotion to all things spooky, but it’s a year ‘round ardor on account of a quality that Halloween possess that other holidays do not.
That quality is honesty. It might seem odd to brand a holiday as honest, but what I value most about Halloween is how it razes inhibitions and people are more open about what they love and even who they are.
Children are this way. They don’t hide their passions. They want to share those interests with anyone who cares about them. Death itself is a great unmasker. We may talk a big game about what we’re not scared of, but when sickness enters our lives—be it our own lives or those of our loved ones—there’s a tendency to get awfully real—and awfully humble—awfully fast. We develop a respect for what matters most.
Halloween is the fun version of this, when death is a specter and not a reality. Halloween’s form of death rekindles the same emotions that once made us excited to watch a new monster movie or get in costume for a night of trick or treating with friends. There is no pretense with Halloween: whatever you love is cool because you love it. Better yet, you love it because it stirs your imagination.
There’s a salubrious byproduct in the very idea of dressing up. Even if we don’t wear the Frankenstein monster garb ourselves, we become monsters via a contact costume high. We allow ourselves to become more real—more inspirited as ourselves—by pretending. There’s no pretense. This is the best kind of pretending. A pretending that reveals our loves and interests, our need for playfulness, rather than the pretending that all is well when it’s not.
Halloween is healthy this way. If you were an alien watching us, you might think at first that celebrating a day of the dead was grim fare indeed. Unless you’re a newborn, chances are remote that your life hasn’t been touched and scarred by death. But Halloween is a celebration of life’s essential components. We don one mask to drop a host of others.
This is why Halloween just feels good, the same as when a person you care about trusts you and opens up about a problem in their life, as you do when sharing with them. That’s a form of trick or treating, sans candy and a pillowcase to carry it in. The people who truly care about us never pull the trick card any more than you’ll slam the door in some kid’s face when she rings your doorbell this October 31.
Halloween courses with an invigorating way of being, which it behooves us to keep flowing the rest of the year, even when there’s no official holiday to encourage Halloween’s approach to life. This is the holiday that is amazingly efficient in skirting the worst kind of death: being alive, though all but officially dead, and going through the motions.
That’s because Halloween encourages us to embrace our inner monster, which is a rather pleasing, inspiring monster who need not even howl at the moon or battle mobs of angry villagers. Just take him trick or treating with you in the grand sense, and your pillow case will be stuffed to overflowing.