Rick asks ‘What is the fuss?” about Hallowe’en. He wants to know what is the attraction; why this holiday continues to be attractive.. I thought I would reply. There are many reasons why Halloween remains popular, despite it never being officially declared as a national holiday.

I think the number one reason why it keeps on going is it touches upon the archaic. We need rituals that deal with the dead and the dark and the unknown. For many millennia people in the Northern hemisphere have had some sort of ceremony involving the death of nature tied in with the death of people. Despite our modern ways, the archaic is never far below the surface. Our psyches need something like Hallowe’en. Even Christianity could not eliminate it, but white wash it.

Another attraction of Halloween is it has no fixed rules, no ‘should statements’, and no demands of how it should be. If you want, you don’t even have to celebrate it. After thousands of years this holiday has evolved and incorporated numerous festivities and rituals from many cultures. With no expectations, it retains all the fun and revelry other holidays have lost. Think of Christmas. Most people find the Christmas season demanding, depressing, overwhelming, and full of ‘should statements’. In my psychiatric practice, I get many patients stressed or depressed around Christmas and Thanksgiving. Nobody comes in feeling these things about Halloween.

Holidays traditionally had a sort of rebellion to them, a time for revelry when the usual rules were thrown out. One of the reasons the Puritans outlawed Christmas was it was too riotous. This is reflective in having ‘sober’ Christmases and the discouragement of drinking or eating  excessively.  Hallowe’en hasn’t been tamed as much.  Interesting!  While Thanksgiving and Christmas are known for  excessive drinking, Hallowe’en is not. Perhaps because there is no need for alcohol to loosen up our inhibitions; at Hallowe’en we act them out rather.

Hallowe’en has a healthy dose of sticking its tongue out at custom and convention. The costumes reflect this  in becoming something or someone outrageous and unconventional.  Ironically, as the Fundies work to banish Hallowe’en as Satanic, the more anti-establishment become the costumes.  It is a holiday that doesn’t seem tameable like Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas – the modern Puritans can’t lick it.  I enjoy seeing something refuse to be fenced in or tied down.

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