It's the time of year when I start thinking of Jack O'Lanterns, Ghosts, Goblins and all things frightful! Yes, 'tis the Halloween season once again! Now, I hear some of you saying "wait! It's only September! Isn't it a little early for Halloween?". To this, I can only reply with an entusiastic "HELL NO"!!!!
All Hallow's Eve has long been my favorite holiday. When else can folks dress up as any darned thing they want, no matter how outrageous or silly? What other time of year can children go door to door and receive candy for free? When I was a kid, I looked forward to Halloween for precisely these reasons. The spooky trappings of the season were also a huge appeal. Looking back, I now realize that Halloween played a major role in helping me overcome my fears as a child. During this time of year, all those things that go bump in the night became externalized, and you could even become the very thing that frightens you! As an adult, I still enjoy this aspect, and I think it becomes a way for all of us to have a laugh at the expense of evil, death and fear. Don't believe me? Statistics show that horror films are always more popular during wars or times of national crisis. Universal's The Wolf Man, for example, became a huge hit, even though it opened days after the attack on Pearl Harbor. It would seem that people have a need to put a face to their fear so they can stare it down. By viewing horror films, or heading into "haunted house" attractions and the like, folks are able to feel they have survived their fear, and left it behind. (Of course, the good ol' adrenaline rush is a huge appeal as well).
For a few years as a kid, my parents attended an extremely Fundamentalist church, that declared Halloween as "Satanic", due to its pagan origins (I hate to inform them that the early Christians adopted Christmas and Easter from the pagans as well, and had no problem with any of them. These holidays were appropriated and Christianized in order to make former pagans feel more comfortable). Mom and Dad have since relaxed quite a bit when it comes to their beliefs, but back then they were pretty gung-ho. For a couple of years, I couldn't participate in any Halloween activities, since they were considered "evil". Now, I'm well aware that many neo-pagans consider Halloween (or "Samhain" as it was known in Celtic times) to be a sacred holiday, but those folks are fairly benign in their belief system. Modern-day Satanists (and by this I'm referring to the actual occultists who worship the entity of Satan) also observe it, but this doesn't mean that the baby should be thrown out with the bathwater. These folks appropriated it from the Druids just like the Christians did, and have thus done their own thing with it. To me, all these holidays have whatever meaning you choose to give them. I can pretty well guarantee that my philosophy towards Halloween is the polar opposite of the Satanists.
As I grew into adulthood, I never lost my love for all things Halloween. In fact, I continued to dress up, go to parties, and what-not. In the mid-nineties I met my friend Michelle, and we instantly bonded over our love for this holiday. Like me, she looks forward to it all year, and plots out her costume and party plans months in advance. Around the first of September, when all the Halloween merchandise begins to creep into stores, we always call each other to share what goodies we've spied! She always plans a rockin' party, that is considered to be one of the highlights of the year amongst that social circle. I've made multiple-disc compilations of Halloween appropriate music for the parties, and every year I'm on the lookout for more ghoulishly groovy tunes.
Now that I have kids, I've re-discovered the joy of Trick-or-Treating through them. Both of my kids have already picked out their costumes, and are discussing what activities and parties we will be going to. It has become a fun time for us all to share, and I've noticed that my little girl, in particular, seems to be enjoying the "scary" aspect. She is, for the first time, embracing the concept of scaring and being scared, and wants to decorate the house in frightful images instead of cute ones.
Until October 31st, little else will be on my mind, so bear with me if all I talk about is Horror films, Halloween music, party plans or any of the other myriad topics that spring to mind around this wonderful time of year!