Samhainophobia: The Fear of Halloween
Did you ever wonder about the homes in your neighborhood that never put their porch light on, never pass out candy, have no Halloween decorations and all their windows and blinds are tightly closed? It’s possible that those behind the triple-locked doors are suffering through Samhainophobia (pronounced Sow-wen-ophobia - "Samhain" is an ancient celtic word).
What is Samhainophobia?
Easily described, Samhainophobia is a fear of Halloween. Simple references to Halloween rituals cause panic. Even the buildup of advertising and decorations prior to October 31 causes anxiety in those with Samhainophobia. And it gets worse as the date gets closer.
Samhainophobia is also known as:
- The fear of Samhain
- A phobia of Halloween
- A phobia of Samhain
- Halloween fear
- Samhain fear
- Halloween phobia
- Samhain phobia
A phobia is an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something. Therefore, anyone with Samhainophobia will do whatever it takes to avoid anything that has to do with Halloween.
Other Phobias Common During the "Halloween Season"
Fear of cats
Fear of cemeteries
Fear of ghosts
Fear of witches or witchcraft
What are the Symptoms of Samhainophobia?
Symptoms vary by person as with any phobia. The signs are characteristic to those associated with panic such as:
- Feelings of dread
- Excessive anxiety
- Dry mouth
- Slurred speech
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
Children and Samhainophobia
A child is supposed to enjoy Halloween “just like everyone else.” Therefore, a child with symptoms of Samhainophobia is much more likely to be made fun of by their peers. Because of this, it can be even more devastating and difficult to overcome.
Young children can be scared very easily, especially by things they do not understand. Their fears are real. They should never be laughed at or dismissed. Children need to be told and reassured about all the things related to Halloween that seem scary but are just for fun.
What are the Causes of Samhainophobia?
If Halloween scares you, then you are definitely not alone, even though there is some debate as to whether or not Samhainophobia truly exists and causes distress that is genuine to its sufferers.
But, anyone who has ever had a panic attack understands that the fear and symptoms are real. There is no debate.
Because our mind is incredibly powerful, a phobia such as Samhainophobia can be so alarming that the victim becomes incapacitated. Phobias commonly arise from a combination of heredity (internal genetics) and real-life traumatic events (external factors).
It is possible that Samhainophobia can be traced back to a specific traumatic event that triggered this phobia at an early age. For some people, it may be brought out by other fears such as Sociophobia (fear of people) or Pedophobia (fear of children).
My Personal Halloween Phobia Story
If any of my close friends or family read this, they may be surprised to know that I do not like Halloween.
- Did I dress up in costumes for Halloween when I was younger? Yes
- Did I run door to door trick or treating for candy and coins? Yes
- Have I been to Halloween parties? Yes
- Do I have a fear of Halloween? YES
I’m not sure what really prompted me to write this article. I can tell you that it was a big trigger for me as my own personal thoughts about Halloween definitely came into play.
Figuring Out Why I'm Afraid of Halloween
I believe that I went along with the tradition of Halloween as a child because it was what every kid did. But as an adult, the fact is that I do not like Halloween and am kind of afraid of it too.
Why? I’m honestly not sure but if I figure it out, I will definitely let you know.
This is what I do know:
- My mother loved Halloween. We had a huge picture window on the front of our house. Every year she would paint a different Halloween picture over the entire window. She would place a stereo speaker near the front door and play scary music really loud. Most of the lights would be shut off in the house making it even spookier. I remember changing bulbs in the lamps to black lights. Mom would cover herself in a bed sheet and a scary face mask waiting for the next kids to come running up our steps. Everyone loved coming to our house. And mom loved seeing all the kids dressed up. Decades later, some still talk about it. Did this affect me? I really don’t think so. I was never ever afraid of my mom, not even on Halloween.
- Additionally, vivid pictures still come to mind of my next door neighbor Paul and his son John dressing up in scary costumes on Halloween. The dad would hide around the house and jump out when you would approach their front steps. The son would sit, very still, in a chair in the middle of the front lawn, dressed as a scarecrow or “dummy.” Everyone walking by would assume it was a “stuffed” decoration until John started chasing us down the street. My screams were louder than their blaring scary music. Did this affect me? I believe so, to a certain extent.
- I remember as a young child being forced by friends to go through haunted houses. This terrified me to tears. As I got into high school and friends were planning their annual visits to haunted houses, I would force myself to go with them in fear of being "different." But I always felt sick. I always hated it. I always panicked. Did this affect me? Absolutely.
- When I was a very young adult, my grandfather passed away on Halloween. Did this affect me and add to my fear? I’m not sure.
- I don’t like passing out candy, never did. I have, but I don’t like it. I guess, somehow, I am afraid of who will “surprise ME” when I open the door.
- Even as an adult, I can remember feeling fearful of the approaching “trick or treat” time. If I was driving my car during that time span, I felt extremely cautious. And I always felt relieved when it was time for people to shut the porch lights off.
- When someone is covered in a full costume where you have no idea who is underneath, that freaks me out. I can’t help it. I don’t like the guessing game. I do feel panic because it is just plain creepy to me.
To this day, I am always glad when Halloween is over.
Do I have Samhainophobia? I’m not positive. But I’m leaning toward “yes” because as I am writing, I am feeling a little nauseous, clammy, itchy and whole lot of fear. And I am not joking!
Do you have a fear of Halloween?
Help for Those Who Fear Halloween
If the effects of Samhainophobia are extremely bothersome and devastating, speaking with a medical professional is recommended. Trying to avoid the triggers that cause this phobia can ease the symptoms although treatments such as counseling, hypnotherapy or psychotherapy may be encouraged.
Medications, such as those for anxiety, could possibly be prescribed. But keep in mind that these medicines are intended to suppress the symptoms, not cure them.
Samhainophobia is not a joke. If you know of someone who has a fear of Halloween, please do not make fun of them. There are probably much deeper reasons for their irrational fear that are not easily explained or understood.
This is Sharyn’s Slant