’Tis the season, because October has arrived, which means spooky season is in full effect. Now come the pumpkin spice lattes, the chunky sweaters, the apple cider from your local farm, the haunted houses, the scary movies and a month of brainstorming a costume for one of the most important nights of the year – Halloween. Every year, Halloween starts as just a regular day for people. Workplacesand schools function as they normally would, until nighttime falls and the magic begins as people dress up to go trick or treating. Although not an official holiday, Halloween should get the recognition it deserves as an important day of the year, and here’s why…
Halloween has its origins as a Celtic festival named Samhain, a time when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. It was a celebration of the end of the summer and the start of the winter. On this night, it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to Earth because the boundary between the spirit world and the world of the living was dropped. As time passed, Pope Gregory III marked November 1 as All Saints Day and Nov. 2 as All Souls Day, and the evening before became known as All Hallows Eve, later earning its title as Halloween. By the 20th century, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious connotations and has now evolved into what we all know and love today – a night filled with carving jack-o’-lanterns, festive gatherings, costumes, ghost stories and eating candy.
October starting means Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner. The season of giving is right upon us, and the country is about to benefit from Black Friday and Christmas shopping, as it always has done in the past. What people don’t realize is the fiscal impact that Halloween has in America. Americans spend six billion dollars annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday after Christmas. The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas might see the biggest boost to the economy, but Halloween follows right behind that. Just think of all the candy, costumes and decorations purchased for this one night every single year. Better yet, remember all of the box office hits that were Halloween movies. Now imagine if Halloween, the second most beneficial time of the year for the economy, was declared a national holiday, prompting even more people to see this as an opportunity to go out and spend more money.
As a child, Halloween was the one night of the year when I could be whoever I wanted to be without being judged. I could be Dorothy on her adventure home from Oz, a princess who lost her glass slipper, a pink lady from the 50s or even a pirate trying to find the hidden treasure. According to psychologist Gina Barreca, nobody feels lonely or abandoned on Halloween, and there is about one-hundredth as much emotional tension surrounding Halloween as what surrounds Valentines Day or New Years Eve. Even though this is not immediately apparent, it’s the one holiday when people don’t feel afraid of being themselves. At the same time, there is no added pressure on the day itself, meaning that if you want to go out and party with friends, that’s fine, but if you want to stay in and hand out candy to the neighboring kids, that’s fine too.
Its cultural impact is just as important as its fiscal impact, especially since it has many of the same characteristics as Thanksgiving and Christmas, including decorations, unique foods and time with family and friends. Overall, it has a culture of unity. And Halloween itself isn’t a day about death anymore because people can confront their fears in a safe environment, making being scared less of a taboo subject for one night of the year.
Oct. 31 is a day filled with traditions and loved by many. Declaring it a national holiday will have cultural and economic impact on this country. It’s the one night of the year where you can be yourself, a night that both children and adults can enjoy without pressure. The fear of the night does not come from emotional tension associated with the day; it comes from an excitement of wanting to be afraid and revel in the immense activities, numerous movies and countless pounds of candy. The time from Oct. 1 to Oct. 31 will be in preparation for the supposed “scariest” night of the year. However, as Max Dennison once said, “it’s all just a bunch of Hocus Pocus.”