- Holidays and Celebrations
Celebrating a month of Halloween
Halloween then and now
Some people look forward to Halloween all year and some people live for it. The Halloween celebrated today is a mere shadow of the original holiday. I use the word "holiday" lightly because the original purpose of Halloween was not lighthearted fun. Our ancestors took ghosts, demons and the afterlife very seriously.
The end of October marked their harvest and winter preparation time. They believed that the dead rose from the grave at this time and would possibly damage their harvests. They dressed up in costumes and offered foods to the dead as a way to please them.
Today, Halloween is a much anticipated event in some areas. Haunted house attractions, parades, parties and trick or treating are all part of the modern celebration. There are those of us who enjoy decorating our homes with horrific flare the entire month of October. In fact, some of us keep the Halloween spirit alive all year through bits of our home décor.
Throughout the month of October one can expect to find horror movies in theaters and on television, costumes and décor items in most retail stores and lots of candy available. The steady increase in popularity of all things paranormal, has given Halloween an even bigger boost as a holiday in some countries like the United States.
It may seem like a month is a long time to celebrate Halloween, especially since the actual day is the very last in the month! It isn't so far fetched though. We are force fed items in stores beginning as early as mid August, which helps some people get in the mood for it. The weather is starting to getting cooler, the days are getting shorter and thoughts can easily turn to the unexplained. I'm not sure why this correlation is made, but it happens. Perhaps it is the longer hours of darkness and the uncertainty that lies within that darkness.
How to enjoy the Halloween spirit
A good Halloween starts off with getting into the "horror"-ific spirit. This can be accomplished by watching a few choice classic horror films featuring machete wielding maniacs, undead psychos and cursed objects.
Once you have finished your movies, then you can move on to setting the mood with décor. You can go for simplicity and buy some decorations like themed (witches, ghosts, pumpkins, etc.) window clings and severed body parts or you can create your own macabre atmosphere with everyday items...for the most part. Swords, large knives, axes, skulls and rusty tools/objects strategically placed around your home can drive up the creepy factor quickly.
Other ideas include plenty of candles in colored glass holders (jars work great for this), black or dark colored curtains and covering various objects like furniture and standing coat racks with sheets. For a really cool and cheap creepy effect, buy a few plain white plastic masks and paint them. Then hang on your walls, over lamp shades (take mask off when using lamp) or even wear them.
Please note if you have children or children frequent your home, rusty and sharp objects are a bad idea. Safety first! There are many, many family friendly ways to decorate for Halloween.
Another sure fire way to get in the spirit of Halloween is to dress up. No, this is not just for the kids, adults can enjoy it too. You don't have to spend an arm or a leg to scare up a good costume either. Decide what you'd like to be and head to your local second hand shop. Chances are you can find some clothing that will work perfectly and maybe even a makeup kit. Remember those masks mentioned earlier? Well you can forego the makeup and don one of your hand painted masks. Voila! Cheap and fun costume.
One last suggestion is to host a party or two. Throughout the month, you can throw themed parties like "dress up as your favorite horror movie monster" or turn your place into a haunted house for your party guests. You could also host a murder mystery event.
Halloween today is all about having fun while scaring the pants off each other. However, it is always smart to take safety precautions. There is nothing fun about someone getting hurt due to carelessness. Make sure walkways are lit up enough that people will not trip, make sure you have a well stocked first aid kit and always have a phone handy for emergencies.
So, what's with the horror fascination anyway?
Sure there are many, many of us that adore Halloween and the creepiness it represents. However, not everyone shares our enthusiasm nor understands it. It's not that they are necessarily afraid, it could be that they simply don't see the point.
Some people dread when Autumn rolls around each year because with it comes Halloween. They dread the scary movie marathons on TV and having to maneuver around the Halloween displays in their favorite stores. Not to mention having to either buy treats for the trick or treaters or pretending not to be home on Halloween afternoon and evening.
These people are not insane or trying to ruin our fun. They just do not have the fascination with Halloween and all things spooky, that we do. So, why exactly are horror fans, horror fans?
The answer is not as simple as you might think. Some of us just like the thrill of being scared, some are interested in unexplained, creepy things and some like the change from mundane every day life. Well, and then there are those of us who may just be slightly off our rockers.
Fascination with death, the undead and the afterlife is as old as civilization itself. Some people want to know what happens after we pass from this life. Some people believe there is a sort of life between the spirit world and the living world. Some people even believe that we never truly die. Perhaps it boils down to the constant search for answers to life's mysteries. Whatever the reasons, horror fans love being scared.
Halloween is the one day and night that it is acceptable to be creepy. It is acceptable to dress up as an undead slasher and walk the streets. It is acceptable to have our yards littered with tombstones and zombies coming up from the ground. Seances and tarot card readings are acceptable on Halloween, as are walks through a peaceful cemetery at midnight. On Halloween it is cool to live in the most haunted house in town.
Is the veil between the living and the dead thinnest on Halloween? I don't think anyone can answer that question and back it up with solid proof one way or the other. Do spirits walk among us on Halloween? Maybe they do, maybe they don't. Is Halloween a fun time for scaring your friends and yourself? Absolutely!
Celebrate the creepiness!
I love Halloween and I love creepy, unexplained things. I enjoy the thrill of being scared and I like a good mystery. Halloween offers up all of that and more. I have enjoyed these things since I was a young child. My friends are divided, some share my creepiness and some don't understand at all. I don't hold it against them.
I say if you enjoy a good scare then stock up come October! Celebrate the creepiness in whatever fashion gives you the most chills, but be smart and safe about it. Create your own scare-tastic good time with a group of friends at home or share in other's celebrations.
© 2014 Tammy Cramblett