Every year I reflect on how much I love Halloween. I know our culture goes a little overboard on holidays, and this one is no exception, but at the heart of Halloween is creativity, generosity, and community.
Two years ago I wrote about how the duality that exists in humans – the animalistic, gluttonous side and the kind, virtuous side – is mirrored in this holiday, with Halloween representing avarice and All Saints’ Day representing morality.
This year I decided that the duality exists in Halloween alone. Children have the opportunity to imagine themselves into any creative creature they wish: scary monsters, wild (and domesticated) animals, heroes who save the day, and kind, gentle beings who model goodness for all of society. The whole range of human nature is represented in Halloween costumes.
The greed and generosity coexist as well. As these little people tear through the neighborhood collecting as much candy as they can, there is a pause at each house: a “trick or treat”, a moment of connection as the treat-giver admires the costumes, and a “thank you” as the treat-takers acknowledge the gift before going on their way. It is brief, but it is real. The community opens its doors and gives to anyone – good or evil – who asks.
I can’t help but see Halloween as a metaphor for the best and worst of society successfully coexisting. Maybe Halloween is the one holiday that brings out the little bit of optimism in me (thanks to the large quantity of chocolate that ends up in my house), or maybe I just love the sense of community, the mutual understanding, and the openness to all that seems so rare in general, but is so evident on Halloween.
Whatever it is, I love Halloween.
This year we had a cheetah, a mouse, and a fairy of sorts.