Why Do So Many Americans Love Halloween

I visit Abu Sahajj Hakim’s blog frequently to get a different perspective on America. I love and respect him, his writing, and his beliefs. He recently wrote a post about Halloween and I wanted to comment, but I resisted because I thought it would be a great topic for a blog post.
Here’s an excerpt of his post:

Halloween is the most indulgent and frivolous event in American culture. Yeah, yeah… I know your kids love it and it is so fun right! Yeah well, my guess is that in 1767 going to the market place to select a new slave to perform childcare and domestic duties was thrilling and rather adventurous for children (my point is that all things indulged are not inherently noble, which is a fairly obvious point).

I want to tell you why I love Halloween.

I am grateful for Halloween because of…
Pumpkin Patch BW
Joyful memories from my youth
A gaggle of about 20 of us kids, ages 6-12 spent hours trick or treating (without adults), returning home with pillowcases full of candy, emptying them on the living room floor and returning to the streets again and again.

The brown house with the orange double doors that handed out football cards in 1978. I still know where it is.

Adults checking my candy for poison, needles, and razor blades. Their unfounded fears were based on legend, but it somehow added to the fun. I remember thinking at each house – Is this the guy that poisons little kids?

Descending on an old abandoned 4-story boarding school we named “Hell House” for pitch-dark games of capture the flag.
Hell House Gate 2006 - The building was torn down a few years ago
Hell House Gate 2006 Chanhassen MN- The building was torn down a few years ago

Hooting, hollering, and laughing in marijuana-hazed theaters showing midnight runs of campy “B” horror films. I know, I know, but it’s a happy memory for me. 🙂
The Theatre in 2006 - they turned it into a Hollywood Video and office, but the marquee is still intact
The Theatre in 2006 – they turned it into a Hollywood Video and offices, but the marquee is still intact

The joy it brings children
I dropped my son off at a Halloween party this morning. He was dressed up as a blue and purple fuzzy monster.The Scariest Monster of All When he entered the party a dozen kids swarmed around him, his eyes sparkled and his face beamed with delight.

The joy it brings my wife
She takes the time to get just the right costumes for the boys. Halloween is a social time where she gathers with family and friends to decorate the house and carve Jack-O-Lanterns. She takes special care to find the perfect candy to give to our little goulish Halloween visitors.

The joy it brings me
I plan to build a Haunted House in my garage for all the neighborhood kids. That’ll give me an excuse to dress up in a silly costume and entertain children – something IT managers don’t get to do very often.

I also plan to have a bonfire where I tell the ghost stories that I write.

Halloween has no religious connotation to me. To me it’s simply a chance for us to escape the blandness of our lives and be creative and frivolous.

Since we live in a culture of fear, I believe Halloween also helps us deal with our fear by allowing us to feel fear in relative safety.

If I could say anything to the ancient pagan Celts and Scots who invented Halloween, I’d say…
Thanks for inventing something so incredibly fun, you’ve brought tremendous joy to millions of boys and girls. Chalk one up for the Pagans.

P.S. Please feel free to share your happy Halloween stories in the comments.

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5 thoughts on “Why Do So Many Americans Love Halloween”

  1. Hi Steve,

    I’m with you. Halloween is just plain fun anymore. As Winnifred Sanderson says in Hocus Pocus, it’s become a night of frolic.

    We have churches around here that preach against it, just Abu did. We also have Wiccans who celebrate it as one of their holy days.

    I just think it gives children, and adults, a safe way to experience fantasy and fears – and get lots of candy.

  2. Hey Steve,
    I found you via Wa Salaam which I sometimes read for a different perspective. I didn’t post my thoughts about Halloween there either. But since you and I share a love of Halloween, I thought I’d thank you for your post. I wrote about Halloween today before I read your thoughts. I hate that traditions and festivities must now be sanitized for “our protection.” I got my dander up after reading that our local school district wasn’t allowing parties today. Sometimes, I think there are those who just want to suck the life out of all celebrations.

    Fine if the critics don’t like Halloween. But I do. Homogenized milk is great. Homogenized society–not so great.

  3. I just wanted to say that your son’s costume is fantastic! Like a cross between a teddy bear and Sully from Monsters Inc.

    Kudos to your wife.

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