Why Do We Love Halloween?

Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.

Before we don our costumes for a night of (hopefully) wholesome fun, I’d like to close the month of October with a simple question: Why do we love Halloween?

As many of us know, Halloween (once known as All Hallow’s Eve) comes with a creepy history, its origins stemming from believing in the supernatural and the hope of scaring away evil spirits. Today it’s one of the most marketable holidays in the world, second only to Christmas. Horror movies pop up in the theaters, costume stores open for a month or two, and sales increase in pumpkins and candy.

Ironically, Halloween only takes place one day a year. And what do we do on that one day? The major consensus is usually dress up in a costume and either collect candy, go to a Halloween party, or both. And yet we spend an entire month paying homage to Halloween in one way or another. The same can be said for Christmas; it’s only one day, yet we spend well over a month celebrating the Christmas spirit. However, Halloween and Christmas are so different from one another that you could write an entire essay comparing the two.

So how is it that Halloween managed to work, despite the dark stories of how it came about? What makes it popular in spite of its religious controversy? While I consider Halloween to be one of my top five holidays, I have to admit that it’s such a strange phenomenon. So I decided to poke around on the internet to see why other people love it. And these were the two responses that corresponded with the majority of Halloween-lovers.

1: It’s fun.

And yes, for many, that is hard to deny. As the ABC comedy Black-ish pointed out in its Halloween special, “it’s the one time of year you get to not be you!” Someone also asked this question on answers.yahoo.com, and one of the people who answered said “It’s a day out of the year to show your imagination off.” In fact, some of the people who answered couldn’t believe that anyone would dislike Halloween.

However, while I do enjoy it, I can see where those who dislike it are coming from. For one, there have been a lot of freaky images popping up on computers in the last month, many of which are likely capable of giving heart attacks. And religious controversy aside, Halloween seems to glorify horror and terror—which, ironically, a lot of people seem to go for. Why is that? What is the appeal of horror? This brings me to my next reason for explaining Halloween’s popularity:

2: Some people like to be scared.

There’s a lot of psychology behind this, which I won’t get into. What I will get into, in order to explain this point, is one of the Nostalgia Critic’s Halloween editorials, “Should we scare the s$&@ out of kids?” In the editorial, he brought up these points:

  1. Scaring kids can get a point across, like don’t talk to strangers and be careful of what you wish for
  2. Intense moments allow kids to experience these feelings—adrenaline, hope, and (as he puts it) the appreciation of being challenged.

When he brought up these reasons (particularly the last one) I couldn’t help but think about the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. You wouldn’t think that such a bloody, gritty trilogy would gain so much popularity over the years, but it has. Why? Because it challenged its readers. It talked to its target audience like adults. And I think that we all want to be challenged. We all want to be taken seriously. We all want to be treated like smart people. And that’s exactly what Hunger Games did, both in the books and in the movies.

The same could be said for Halloween. All Hallow’s Eve appeals to our thirst for excitement and creativity. It creates a time for those who love danger and thrills to get their fill. It challenges us to understand the dark side of humanity. And whether we’re aware of it or not, it allows us to appreciate the lighter moments of life all the more when the sun rises on November 1st.

Until next time, this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “Happy Halloween!”

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Photo source: http://www.hgtv.com/holidays-occasions/kids-costume-ideas/pictures/index.html

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