Why Halloween?
I have no idea why I love Halloween the way I do.  I don't really like horror movies.  I'm not into the goth scene.  I don't go out for anything theatrical.  But when it comes to Halloween, I don't ever let an October 31st pass me by without grabbing it by the horns and goatee.

That might sound paradoxical coming from someone who finds talk of spirits and demons to be ludicrous nonsense, but Halloween is a good thing precisely because it's the one formal occasion on the calendar when we get together and acknowledge that superstition and the supernatural are make-believe.  Over the centuries, Halloween has moved from its embarrassing origins that centered around fears that people who didn't know any better actually used to believe... to something that is patently fiction, and only the most brainwashed religious zealots find anything to fear in it.

A few years ago I asked a co-worker what she was planning to do for Halloween.  She said she (and her church, presumably) "didn't believe in Halloween."  Were I not in complete shock to discover people like this still living in the 21st century, I would have snapped back with, "Look, I've seen Halloween.  It exists.  It comes to my door looking for candy.  You absolutely should believe in it."  Honestly, if the fundamental beliefs of your church are threatened by kids with a sugar rush, you probably can't handle the last few centuries of science.

I love Halloween simply for what it is, not just that it galls religious nuts that intelligent folk are having fun with superstitions that these wackos are actually still scared of well into adulthood.  This isn't Satan's birthday; it's simply an excuse to play dress-up, to decorate, and to confront imaginary fears in a fun way.  Personally, I wouldn't stop celebrating Halloween if those types fell off the edge of the flat earth they seem to have come from.  But the fact that it bothers them that I decorate my yard with ghosts and skeletons?  That's just gravy.

I support pretty much all the traditions associated with what we know as Halloween.  I want people to enjoy all these things for generations to come.  Dressing up as a favorite character, playing pretend, scaring people and finding situations like haunted houses where you can be scared.  Because after the initial emotion of being scared by a "ghost" you go, "Neat!  How did they do that?"  And if you start along those lines, it isn't much of a stretch to say, "Ghosts aren't real.  And Holy Ghosts aren't either."  It's one less imaginary boogyman to scare the masses with.

Tonight, on Halloween night, it's your civic duty to publicly celebrate this holiday.  While they're burning Harry Potter books in church parking lots, stick it in the face of those who are offended by the idea of kids dressing as ghouls and cartoon characters.  All it takes is candy.  You need to be rewarding those who take part in the celebrating tonight with their amateurish pageantry.  You want them to come back the next year.  You want them to grow up to continue the tradition with their own kids.  If Halloween goes away either by being driven by force or apathy, it's paradoxically superstition and foolishness that wins, not rational thought.

The message of Halloween is uniquely self-referential: There are no monsters except those who would do away with Halloween.

Copyright 2011 the Ale[x]orcist.