Friday, October 29, 2010

Why I Love Halloween

Growing up Southern Baptist means that my life was filled with a lot of Halloween Haters. It's the devil's holiday, you know. Many of my church friends didn't trick or treat, and many of my churches put on Fall Festivals or Harvest Festivals to take place of Halloween. And that's cool. I respect all that. Halloween does have a dark and pagan past, and I can appreciate that people still understand and see that.

However, Christmas also has a dark and pagan past. It's called Saturnalia.

Valentine's Day? Look up Lupercalia.

In both cases, Christians made these holidays their own, creating Christmas and Valentine's Day (not that Valentine's day is much of a Christian holiday anymore). Which is sort of what the church does with Fall Festivals. And I can get behind that.

But whether you call it Fall Festival or Halloween, it's really the same thing. We still dress up (or dress up our kids if we have any) and get candy. In a traditional Halloween, this is done in a door to door throughout the neighborhood fashion. In a Fall Festival, we go to the church and we play games from which we can get candy.

However, I love Halloween, including the horror, magic, ghosts, and witches. Why? How can a person who grew up Southern Baptist (and who still agrees with most of their doctrine) love watching horror movies and hanging ghosts in front of her house (if I had a house, I totally would)?

Because to me Halloween isn't necessarily a holiday of horror. It's a holiday of imagination. It's the holiday where we can imagine that anything we want is true. We can be whoever we want to be. We can pretend Martians are real. We can pretend that magic is possible. We can pretend that we're really a Jedi (my personal go-to costume).

But I said I loved the horror aspect of it too. How does this jive with my love of the holiday of imagination?

Well horror (or at least some subgenres of the genre) are speculative fiction, and I'm all about speculative fiction (that's Science Fiction and Fantasy, for those who don't know the terminology). Half of what we now call "paranormal" is really horror. Ghosts. Vampires. Witches. Wizards. Do I think vampires are real? No. (Though I'm not ruling out the possibility that they could be created by a super-virus in a very I am Legend sort of way). I love fantasy, and I don't think any of those things are real.

And I know there are beliefs and religions out there that do view some of the things I view as paranormal as real. And I'm cool with that. I don't think they're right, but it's their right to take Halloween more literally if they want. For me, I just get to take this day and pretend, like I do any time I read a SF or Fantasy book. But Halloween is more than reading a book. It's like acting. It's like playing make-believe. For this day, I can pretend. I can pretend that Jedi's are real. I can pretend that vampires might jump out at any minute, and I can pretend the world is magical.

I know its not true. It doesn't need to be true. I just like to pretend it is. Like when I was little, and I created worlds for my little sister and I to play in.

On Halloween, imagination reigns. And that's why I love Halloween.

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