It’s that time of year again. One of my favorite holidays is coming up. Some religious believers have asked me why an atheist would celebrate Halloween. My answer of course is, because we can. Why wouldn’t we? How could anyone not love a holiday in which people get to dress up (or dress down as is often the case), in creative, scary, and/or sexy costumes and give out free candy?
While it is true that Halloween is technically a Christian holiday, like most other Christian holidays it was of course stolen from the pagans and has been secularized by the capitalistic and materialistic system to deliver profits. And since sex sells, Halloween has become quite the sexually charged holiday. Personally, I think that’s awesome.
But what is Halloween really about? Like most other Christian holidays stolen from pagans, Halloween once had a secular seasonal aspect which has been anthropomorphized with myths and superstitions. It is basically an autumn harvest holiday mixed in with the realization that every Game of Thrones fan already is well aware of, i.e. that winter in coming.
Today, the thought of winter is no big deal. Many Americans have central heating or at least have heaters in their homes. We buy our processed foods at the grocery store the same as before. But back in the day, it was actually a big deal. Like in Game of Thrones, winter meant the possibility of real danger and death. The main aspect of the holiday is a celebration of the “veil” between life and death. As autumn comes to an end and winter begins, it looks very much like the world is dying. In other words, Halloween celebrates the veil between the two seasons and there is no magic or superstition about that.
Death plays an important role in this holiday and while I think fundamentalist Christians should love this holiday since they seem to be so obsessed with the death of Jesus and his zombie resurrection, many are surprisingly not a fan of this particular holiday. Some fundamentalists even go as far as calling Halloween, “Satan’s Holiday” and a new fundamentalist movement called “Jesusween” is attempting to hijack the holiday. Personally, their Halloween Grinch attitude only makes me love this holiday even more.
As an atheist, I don’t believe that the dead will walk on Halloween night nor do I believe dressing up in scary costumes will frighten off the evil spirits wandering around. But I do think that wearing sexually explicit costumes will ward off the evil fundamentalist Christians and those scantily-clad adults aren’t bad to look at either. The irony of this holiday is that Christianity has demonized sexuality and now there is a Christian holiday where people dress up as sexy demons.
Another great aspect of this holiday is that it tends to encourage creativity. People are always thinking of new and creative costumes and new ideas for scaring their friends and neighbors in the spirit (no pun intending) of Halloween. It’s all in good fun and it is exciting to see what new costumes people are going to dress up as this year and to see who on the block has the scariest decorations.
A lot of people don’t realize that there is a humanist aspect to Halloween also. The holiday fosters community. People get to take their kids to visit their neighbors. In today’s internet society, a lot of people haven’t even met their neighbors and so this type of activity helps to break the ice and meet those who live right down the block.
Halloween is great for kids too. They get to dress up as their favorite superheroes, movie characters, or use their creativity to come up with something different. They also get to use their creativity on carving pumpkins and making decorations. For the capitalists out there, kids can also use this holiday to learn about trade. I know when I was a kid I would always split up my candy at the end of the night and trade away the candies I didn’t like for the ones I did enjoy.
These are some of the many reasons why Halloween is an awesome holiday. Don’t forget to dress up in some fun, sexy, creative, and/or scary costumes and to eat lots of candy. Feel free to share some of your best costume photos and interesting stories in the comment section. And remember that the really scary people are the ones not giving out candy or wearing costumes.