Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, as it’s more formally known might be dying; at least our western version of it. Halloween is holiday that has it’s roots seeped in christian tradition. Originally this day was for reserved remembering of the dead. Well, culture and capitalism had a field day with that, and now we dress up and knock on strangers doors for candy. We accidentally managed to change possibly the most depressing and sorrowful holiday ever into one of the funnest. Or at least it used to be the funnest…
In today’s society of school shootings, terrorist attacks, and scary strangers; Halloween is on the brink of extinction. See, the entire principle of Halloween relies on the implicit trust / goodwill of the peoples in your community. First of all, everyone needs to participate for it to work, and secondly we trust that they aren’t a friggin’ psychopath and haven’t laced the candy they give out. The amount of cases of that happening aren’t actually that high, but on a night designed to play on everyone’s fears this fear is inconsolable. As a result, alternatives to Halloween have been growing in popularity. Now schools run Halloween events, or simulations of trick or treat. This holiday was fostered by capitalism, and as such capitalism isn’t about to desert it. Now, even malls operate “trick or treat” events where kids can “trick or treat” at stores, while the parents shop.
When people of my age group, or even my parents think back on Halloween, they conjure up fond memories. Risk, reward, danger, excitement, mystery; all feelings that one could get from Halloween. There was something magical about being dressed up in a costume/mask and being out at night with your friends, having fun and being away from the control of your parents. Many people would likely argue, that risk shouldn’t be a part of the Halloween equation, hence mall trick or treating. I however, would argue that kids need to learn how to navigate between risk and reward if they are ever to be a successful member of society. These lessons should come at an early age, one of the earliest lessons of risk and reward is that of the playground. Do you risk climbing to the top of that piece of equipment, for the reward of being on top?
Not many people would put learning risk management and children’s holidays in the same sentence, let alone paragraph. Perhaps another reason for the demise of Halloween is the new connotation we have ascribed to masks. In recent years, attacks by anonymous have been symbolized by the Guy Fawkes mask. Whether people have realized it or not, we now associate masks with anonymity and danger. Sure masks have always represented anonymity, but now that connotation is a negative one, suddenly when someone is masked, we wonder what their nefarious motives are. Masks are used for subterfuge and dangerous terrorist activities, an honest person has nothing to hide. With the rise of overprotective parents, and worldwide terrorist events, no wonder we are hesitant to dress our children up in masks and set them loose for a night.
Alright, so the fears of parents might be partially substantiated. What’s the solution? What happens to Halloween? Is Halloween dying? Mayhaps it’s merely an evolution of Halloween? I think the meaning, and spirit of Halloween that I cherish and love, that my parents know, is on it’s way out. Numbers of trick or treaters lower every year, and more and more houses are dark, with nigh a pumpkin in sight. What does this mean for today’s kids? Aside from missing out on an awesome holiday? I think the biggest thing they lose are the critical lessons of risk and reward. Seriously, the more I think about it the more I realize Halloween teaches a lot about responsibility and independence. For one night we all got to be someone else and make our own decisions, we went out into the night, and walked the line between risk and reward. The outcome we achieved depended on our choices. Learning we have the power to make that choice is one of the most important things we can learn.