The concept of Halloween has always been an intriguing one. We encourage kids to dress up in silly outfits and go out into their surrounding neighborhoods and literally take candy from strangers – pretty much the antithesis of what they’re told to do every other day of the year.
There is no denying the inherent weirdness of Halloween, in fact that’s probably the reason so many enjoy celebrating it. It’s the one day of the year where we can fully embrace pretending to be someone else, where we can delight in frightening people – all in good fun – and not be carted off for a mental health evaluation.
We contend that the true magic of Halloween stems directly from the oddity of it. When else do we actively try to encourage our children to interact with their neighbors, many of whom we may never speak a word to throughout the rest of the year? When else do widespread swaths of people cease being fearful of every little risk in the world and head out into the night to gather up free sugary snacks that they’ll pay for later in dentist bills?
As society has gotten more connected through technology, many experts are making the connection that societies have also simultaneously gotten more reclusive. This could be attributed to many different things, but we opine that it may have something to do with the over-abundance of media that people consume on a daily basis.
When you overindulge in news programming – which, especially for cable news, is incentivized to make a profit by keeping eyes on the screen – you open yourself up to a deluge of negativity that shines a spotlight on all the worst aspects of our society. Death, disease, corruption, more death and shock stories, such as the one person in one neighborhood, out of hundreds of millions of people in the country, who poisoned a family member with a candy apple.
These kinds of stories can rotten a person’s view of the world like too much candy will rot your teeth. They make people less trusting of their neighbors, more concerned that a terrible fate awaits them if they venture into the unknown. In general, such a mindset would make trick or treating quite an anxious affair.
Yet the tradition endures, which is an encouraging sign that people are still able to separate their deepest fears from the reality. In fact, the tradition has even evolved to account for our increasingly paranoid mindsets – with neighborhood Trunk-or-Treat events becoming more and more popular, which provides all the same benefits of traditional trick-or-treating in a more controlled environment.
It cannot be understated how important socialization is for children, but it is also important for adults. Although the overexposure of media and reporting of negative things may lead you to believe the world has never been more dangerous, in fact the world has never been safer and more harmonious. Instances of violent crime have continuously decreased, and despite the common mythology of Halloween horror stories, nobody has ever actually put a razor blade in a piece of candy with the ghoulish intent of harming a child. That’s right, such a common, oft-repeated myth is a complete fabrication.
Underneath its spooky surface, the true heart of Halloween is one of unity and positivity. It makes people happy and tears people out of their comfort zones in order to interact with people they may otherwise never interact with, which hopefully provides them a more healthy perspective overall.
Recently, a trip to a local house on Lakecrest Circle near Warwick Pond – which always takes decorating for various holidays to the max – revealed a packed cul-de-sac of cars parked jockeying for position to check out the haunted maze that occupied the lawn, which was adorned with every ghastly ghost and goblin you could imagine. Visitors are encouraged to drop a dollar or two in a donation box if they wished, which would be later be donated to the Warwick Animal Shelter.
So, while the underlying nature of Halloween may seem macabre, the notion of a world without Halloween may be the scariest concept of all.