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For as long as I can remember, Halloween has been my favorite holiday. For anyone who knows me personally, that might seem strange, considering I am pretty squeamish. Why would a holiday that often contains gory decorations, costumes, and movies be my favorite?
There are many reasons for Halloween being my favorite holiday. The more I think about it, the more I realize additional reasons why this holiday is always one I look forward to. Let’s discuss a few of those reasons in this blog post.
One thing that makes Halloween stand out from other holidays is that it tends to be celebrated for over a month. Stores start putting up Halloween displays as early as August or September. Halloween-themed events tend to run not only on October 31st, but throughout the
month of October. More and more houses put up decorations as the end of October draws closer. Halloween often becomes its own time a year, not just a single day to celebrate. Halloween also has a lot of social aspects to it that I find are just pure fun. Other really social holidays bring a bit of stress, like having to clean and cook for Thanksgiving or figuring out what will make the best present for a loved one in December. On Halloween, you just run around gathering candy with friends and family, with the only stress being making sure none of
the candy has been tampered with and safely crossing the streets. When I outgrew trick-or-treating, I would watch movies with friends and even got up the courage as a young adult to go to Terror Behind the Walls one year. I thought given my squeamishness, that would be too
scary for me, but Terror Behind the Walls was such an awesome mix of lights, decorations, and actors having fun alongside us. It was even better to go with other people instead of buying a ticket to go alone and then bond over the shared experience.
I think what separates Terror Behind the Walls, horror movies, and other Halloween related gore from being squeamish when I get a blood test is knowing the Halloween decorations, costumes, and horror movies are fake. Growing up, I still would often subconsciously look away or cover my eyes during gruesome movie scenes I knew was fake, although I have done so less often as I have gotten older. I just don’t like seeing people getting hurt, but Halloween is often not about getting hurt. There is an exploration of the supernatural around Halloween when that is often stigmatized to be openly embracing images and stories relating to ghosts, zombies, and death during other times of the year. It’s not that I believe in the supernatural, but it is fun to hear certain stories of werewolves, zombies, vampires, etc. Halloween finds a way for us to embrace our fears while having fun. It’s also not just about facing our fears. We dress up as monsters ourselves on Halloween with a smile and decorate our houses as if they were graveyards. We find creative ways to do so, from homemade costumes to Hollywood level special effects makeup. We watch not only scary movies but plenty of films that take those same monsters and murderers and instead find a way to make
them fit within a comedy, love story, or another genre. Halloween allows us to dress as whoever we want for a day, without it being shunned.
I can get on public transit dressed as a zombie on Halloween and be not only greeted with smiles instead of stares but also not be the only one there in costume. If dressing like the living dead is not your thing, you could be your favorite celebrity or superhero for the day. Halloween allows us to openly explore not just our fears, but our interests in that sense. Not sure if you would like wearing a wig? You can put one on as a Halloween costume. Do you want to try makeup, but feel worried about messing it up? Well, people on Halloween are often much more forgiving of beginner level makeup or experimental looks than a less professional-looking everyday makeup look. Halloween is full of so many possibilities when exploring the costume sections in stores, considering what aspects of the costumes I can make myself, seeing all the widely varying decorations on houses, and technology becoming more and more part of decorations.
There are also plenty of activities around Halloween completely unrelated to spooky stuff, like painting or carving pumpkins, drinking apple cider from local farms, and going on hayrides or through corn mazes. Growing up, there were multiple local farms within driving distance that would hold events with those activities and more around October. Being able to pick my own pumpkin to paint at our local farm every year as a kid was such a memorable experience. Halloween often allowed me to create art in various ways, between the costumes, makeup, and decorations. One year, I not only made paper cutouts of bats to decorate but filmed the process in order to upload it to YouTube as a video tutorial. That video continues to spike in views every year around this time and was one of my first YouTube videos to become successfully evergreen, a term used to describe YouTube videos that continuously get views over long periods of time. Halloween also often allows transgender people to more openly explore their gender expression without judgment. I wore both boys and girls costumes over the years as a kid, not because of the gender associated with the costumes, but because I wanted to be Jack Sparrow or Yugi Moto some years just because I loved those characters, but another year, I really wanted to be a witch in a really beautiful dress I found at Party City. There were plenty of years I wore more gender neutral costumes, too. I chose costumes based on whatever fictional character or supernatural creature seemed cool to be that year, not based on gender, but I’m also glad in retrospect my parents never stopped me from wearing costumes thought to be for
boys as someone assigned female at birth. I often just ignored the separation of costumes and products by gender growing up, and instead just ran around the Halloween sections in stores trying on hats and masks that drew my eye. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I came out as
nonbinary, but even as a kid on Halloween who did not fully understand my gender identity yet, I could just be myself via whether dressing as a witch or pirate seemed cooler that year to me or when deciding whether I would rather eat Kit Kats or Reese’s peanut butter cups when trading candy once we got back home from trick-or-treating. To me, wearing lipstick versus fake blood as part of my costume was not about being boyish or girly any more than choosing between Kit Kats and Reeces.
Halloween in many ways has formed who I am today. Besides being able to explore different costume and candy preferences, Halloween was also a time I took on more responsibility as I got older. For a few years as a teenager, I took over the role from my parents of making sure my younger relatives stayed safe while trick-o-treating, which allowed my parents to stay home instead of having to go with us. Eventually, we decided we were all too old for trick-or-treating, but for a few years, I was in charge. My high school decorated the building for Halloween each year, but by my sophomore year, I found myself taking charge of the decorating efforts and organizing the volunteers after the person in charge my freshman year graduated. Managing those volunteers every year up until a senior year and then training someone else senior year to take over for me after I graduated was one of the initial experiences I was able to put on my resume when applying to my first jobs. As I get older, the activities I do around Halloween change, but Halloween has never ceased to bring me joy and be a very meaningful time of year for me.