Why I Love Halloween

My favorite time of year is upon us: early autumn, when it’s still warm but there is a definite chill to the air that calls for cozy sweaters and the embrace of scarves, for long pants and boots, and the smell of delicious pumpkin and squash delights. As the weather gets cooler we seek out warmth in cups of steaming tea, hot baths, and creamy soups. I take this time to get back into things like hot yoga, baking, reading, movies, and self-reflection. And as the end of October draws near, my favorite holiday awaits: All Hallows’ Eve…Halloween!

Time for tea!

Time for tea!

Of course there are the obvious reasons why I love Halloween. The twinkling jack-o-lanterns, their jagged teeth sparkling with tea lights, the little mini chocolate bars that hit department store shelves in abundance, and the opportunity to play dress-up and admire the costuming skills of other trickers and treaters. I love planning and executing my costumes, and usually begin brainstorming in early August. I troll the thrift stores for bits and pieces and usually craft a large amount of the costume myself. I’ve been scary things, movie characters, metaphors, funny things, tongue-in-cheek things, cute things, sexy things, and even impersonated my friends. I enjoy being able to slip into different personas, and spend time researching the specifics, all the way down to the way a character walks. A successful costume is well prepared, and executed to the smallest details. If I walk into a room and either a.) no one recognizes me or b.) jaws drop – then I know I’ve done something right.

But I was thinking today about why else I love Halloween. One particular thing I’ve noticed when it comes to Halloween costumes is that a large majority of them are either blood-crazed and creepy or highly sexualized. What is it about slipping into the skin of the undead, pretending to be a dark, unearthly character, or becoming ridiculously over-sexed that is so appealing? I’ve seen the most innocent and un-sexy things turned trampy; there have been sexy ninja turtles, sexy skeletons, sexy bumble bees, sexy…bacon!? (I’m not kidding.) It seems the most sought after get-ups whisper a promise to either kill you or give you the night of your life. So why is this?

 

See, I told you. Sigh.

See, I told you. Sigh.

My theory is that Halloween explores the polarity and mystery of sex and death. Sex is the ultimate act of creation; we are in a place of utmost power, where we can literally create new life where there once was nothing. Death is the antithesis of that. We are completely powerless to the grim reaper – as much as we try to run from him, one day he will ultimately catch us all. But one thing sex and death have in common is that they are both glamorized and rendered taboo in our society, which makes them shamefully appealing. What is sexier than an attractive vampire who hunts you down and sucks your blood, and in return could give you eternal life?

 

vampire_Brad_Pitt

Yep, I’d let him bite me.

Within this metaphor is the solution to the greatest of mortal humanity’s problems: the issue of temporary sexual gratification, and of infinite death. Written between the lines of grisly vampire and ghost stories is the alluring possibility that we could maintain the miracle of creation, while cheating its counterpart: mortality. And I believe this is the underlying appeal of Halloween, or at least what it’s developed into in the Western world. We will always be fascinated with things we don’t understand, and on top of the list is sex and death. Halloween gives us permission to explore the depths of the unknown and fantasize about what it means to leave this earth, where we go, what we become, and who will meet us there. And in the meantime, we are allowed to celebrate our sexuality: which is our power and our weapon against death. By reproducing our genes in a passionate moment of totally ecstasy, we are taking a stab at beating death. And at the moment of climax we seem to lose ourselves, to disconnect, to be beyond ourselves – in a way, it’s a safe and temporary way to experience the freedom and out-of-bodyness of death; the French even call orgasms “little deaths”. Perhaps this is why evil forces always want a virgin to sacrifice to their dark causes: it is the ultimate win.

Sex gives us power over death.

So this is why I love Halloween. It’s a celebration of life and death, of the mysteries of our existence, and the eternal dance that forever binds them. Instead of running from sex and death, keeping it behind closed doors, Halloween allows us to revel in it. To celebrate it. To roll in the muck of it. It allows for perversion, for a sort of divine comedy, so we may let our guard down and howl at the moon in defiance of our human condition.

Happy Halloween, everyone. Namaste.

Howl at the moon in defiance of your mortality!

 

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