Why does Halloween fascinate us?
What is it about fall and cooler weather that makes us turn towards dark and creepy things? Catalogs are beginning to fill up with black, gross products featuring death and decay. Stores are stocking their shelves with all variety of costumes and candy. Advertisements for haunted houses and hay rides are popping up, and people are beginning to break out their decorations to celebrate.
Now I love dressing up and I love fall, but I do not like Halloween. Or do I? Why do I feel drawn to it? Why do I long for wild autumn nights when the bare trees cast terrible shadows on the walls of my bedroom? I used to love ghost stories but stopped reading them a long time ago (something about lack of sleep and paranoia…). Why do I want to dust them off now?
I have viewed Halloween as a kind of celebration of death for ten years. Why now, do I want to trick-or-treat with my kids? Why do I have a sudden urge, now that the weather is cooler and the leaves are turning, to hypocritically watch Harry Potter films (which I don’t really like and have written elsewhere about why) and read Edgar Allen Poe by candlelight? I am a strong Christian, so why am I tempted by the portrayal of mystics and Pagans chanting while holding crystals with lit candles?
Is it simply cultural norms that have trained me to yearn for these things at this time? Is it something innate about my human nature that naturally thinks of death at this time of year?
The Reasons for God website takes a spiritual look at things and ponders whether people are looking for “some combination of the following:”
- Practical help for life
- Escape from the ordinary and boring
- A new and unusual experience
- Special knowledge
One professor and author wrote that he believed people were looking for escapism and thrills, with some interesting insights on the masks people tend to wear everyday. (http://news.wfu.edu/2012/10/30/fascinated-by-fear/)
Another writer thinks Halloween is enjoyed so much because it gives people an opportunity to conquer their fears. (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/psychology-writers/201110/confronting-terror)
And Seth’s blog simply states, “Because everyone else does.
Why do you or don’t you, celebrate Halloween?