Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Party-Pooper's Take on Halloween

In America we have our own collection of holidays. People send cards, gather, and celebrate. And oh things. That really is the main point of most of our holidays. I'm partial to Thanksgiving, because of the family gathering.

My least favorite holiday is Halloween.

Halloween pumpkin (
I know, I know. I'm no fun. Call me a party-pooper and you'll get no argument. But I'll be honest with you, the way our culture portrays what's scary falls flat for me. Silly is just silly, and stupid is just stupid. All this stuff about werewolves and witches and vampires is lame, really lame. My problem is probably that I've already seen the horror. I know what's really scary, and it's not any of this stuff. I'm not saying I'll never get dressed up in a ridiculous costume and whoop it up with my friends. But to do that I'd need lots of drinks.

And the trick-or-treat bit. Even as a little kid, I didn't get it. I felt like a fool. Who dreamed that up? Who decided it would be cool to dress up little kids in silly costumes to walk around the neighborhood at night? To knock on doors and beg! For candy, for heaven's sake. Does any parent really want their kids to ingest more sugar? Maybe the tradition began before people understood how bad sugar is for you, in an era when the streets were safe and no one worried about child predators or kidnappers. As an alternative, our community hosts a "Fall Festival" for kids, with an elaborately set-up haunted house. The lengths they go to try to scare the kids! Come to think of it, what's with that? Why is it cool to scare kids?

I have a problem with Halloween, and I's my problem. I remember when Kathleen and I were on our honeymoon, there was a group of kids in costumes in the lobby waiting to be led to a Halloween party. I said something sarcastic to Kathleen, something like, "Wait until someday they see something really scary." She thought the kids might hear me, and she climbed all over me. I thought, this is no way to begin a marriage.

On a website called Reclaiming Spiritual Dance, someone called Starhawk describes the origins of Halloween and urges readers to remember its real meaning - that "death is no barrier to love, and every ending brings a new beginning." If this is the real meaning, all I can say is that Halloween must have lost its way a long time ago. We're just going through the motions now. It's an opportunity for retailers to sell billions of dollars worth of candy and a bunch of other useless stuff.

We may inherit our traditions, but that doesn't mean I can't choose the ones I celebrate.

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2011. Building Personal Strength .

1 comment:

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Halloween is my boyfriend's favorite holiday. I am okay with it because it's pagan and black cats are involved. Christmas is my dreaded holiday, except for the fact that I get to watch It's a Wonderful Life again each year. It's hokey as hell, but I love that film.