And this amazing witch confections aren’t even one of those three reasons!
This week I’d like to offer you three reasons to love
There are lots of reasons to not like it, I know. Commercialisation, for one. The shops have been full of Hallowe’en
merchandise and special offers for weeks, making the day seem like some kind of
weird kind of mini-Christmas based upon its worst aspect (in the same way that
Britain seems to be adopting the Black Friday tradition without the joys of
Thanksgiving). There are also concerns
around crime and safety when you have lots of people disguised in masks
approaching others’ homes. In the UK, some
also object to Hallowe’en on the grounds that it is a regarded as a US cultural
import that seems to usurping some home-grown, more traditionally British
Okay, so there are three reasons to not like Hallowe’en and
I’m not going to deny or try to counteract any of them directly. I used to share this kind of Hallowe’en
equivalent of ‘Bah Humbug’; let’s call it a ‘Bah Pumpkin’ attitude. But no more!
I’m now the kind of person who not only owns some special Hallowe’en
earrings but is *really* excited at the prospect of wearing them and wondering
how soon is too soon to get them out.
Why the change? Well here are the
three inter-related reasons why I’ve had a change of heart:
As the popularity of Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest best-seller,
Big Magic, demonstrates, creativity
is inherent to the human condition. It
is not something exclusive to writers or designers or other arty types. We all have the capacity to be creative and
when we give licence to that, it can be a hugely joyful and life-affirming
From fancy dress costumes to decorating our homes,
Hallowe’en gives us the perfect excuse to indulge a playful approach to making
and creating. It is an opportunity for
entering into the creative process without the pressure of a big occasion or
the need to produce award winning results.
Childish and silly and a bit wonky are par for the course. And unlike say Christmas, where there is a
lot of other stuff going on too, at Hallowe’en the costumes and decoration are
a focal point; you don’t need to cook an amazing meal or deliver perfectly
wrapped gifts too. You are free to play.
We are about to enter the holiday season, with a whole host
of other occasions soon lining up in November and December. So why on earth do we add another event to
the mix? Surely we’d all be better
staying in this Saturday, saving our money and our energy for the crazy
Bah pumpkin to that!
Besides, who do you spend Hallowe’en with compared to the other
occasions? Times like Thanksgiving and
Christmas are often about seeing family, which is grand, but there are often
other important people in our lives as well.
Hallowe’en is not only a chance to see them but also to celebrate with
them in a way that everyday life doesn’t provide much scope for. Who hosts a party for no reason? No-one.
We might throw the odd birthday bash or a housewarming or new year
shindig, but probably not regularly.
Hallowe’en presents another opportunity, again one with less pressure
than the big red letter days, to have fun and celebrate with others. One could choose to have a party on 15th
October or 10th November instead, one without skeletons and spiders
and spookiness. But generally we
don’t. Hallowe’en gives us a prompt, a
purpose, even if that is just a convenient excuse for something that would be
pretty awesome to do anyway: get together with people we love and have fun.
Most of our holidays and celebrations are private affairs,
taking pace with a select group of family and friends. As our societies have become more diverse and
more fragmented, many communal traditions, such as gathering in public spaces
for carol singing, have died off. But we
haven’t lost the basic human need for community. Hallowe’en again offers a great opportunity
in this respect. As a secular event,
divorced from its religious origins, it lacks the boundaries of exclusion. It also encourages engagement with other
people. As well as the parties, the
other obvious example of this is trick-or-treating: when else do children get
to interact with neighbours in their community?
(Anything that supports connection across generations is good in my
book). Even adding a bit of Hallowe’en
decoration goes some way towards the same effect; walking down my road earlier
this week, I noticed pumpkins on a few doorsteps and in doing so I felt
immediately more connected with those households – as if by placing these items
outside their entrances they were signalling their desire to participate in a
chance for community too. Sometimes this
goes large scale. A friend always takes
her children trick-or-treating down a nearby street because, in her words,
‘they all really go to town’ with Hallowe’en stuff. In doing so, the residents are forging a
special moment for themselves, a break from ordinary time and ordinary life,
creating a community spirit that others want to be part, fulfilling our oft
thwarted human desire to connect with others around us.
This year, I’ll be going with my friend: funny costume, her
and the children’s company, seeing this street where ‘they all really go to
town’ – what more could I want? Why
would I refuse an excuse for creativity, friendship and community?
What do you think?
What aspect of Hallowe’en would you like to seize upon and
encourage? Could you use some more
creativity, friendship and community?
Is there anything else I could add to that list? I’ve been wondering whether to include ‘fun’
as a separate item but figured it featured in the other three. No doubt there are other things too, both
good and not so great.
Don’t forget to share your reflections on this week’s theme,
including any pictures or thoughts about your Hallowe’en, either via the A Life Of One’s Own
Facebook page or using the hashtag #fourthquarter2015 on Instagram and/or