What makes Halloween so cool to begin with? It’s, most likely, the association with death and the beyond. Death is fascinating no matter whom you ask. I defy you to pass a graveyard and not feel a certain unexplained pull toward it, even though, if you were to stop, you would find only an eerily quiet yard with faded stones and unevenly cut grass. So, what is it then? Are there elements around us invisible to the naked eye, like ghosts? Why do we search for places that look like or are acclaimed to be haunted? Is it the mystery of the unknown? Do we really expect to see some sort of leathery monster licking its chops when we flick the light on? Why do we search the darkened corners of the world, not just creaking, old houses and castles, but the depths of the oceans and reaches of space as well? Is it our nomadic ancestry that brings out an almost insatiable need for adventure? The ancients believed that the end of October was the end of the year, i.e., the death of another year, and a time when wayward spirits could roam amongst the living, and yet, they didn’t run and hide in their houses. Instead, they celebrated. They celebrated life in the face of possible death.
It’s not just about Death, though, is it? Darkness plays a certain role in our celebration of this holiday. Obviously, whether intentionally or by accident, Death and darkness go together well. Halloween just wouldn’t be the same if it were done in broad daylight. Why not? Maybe it’s tradition, or maybe it’s because people feel safe during the day. Many of our ancestors believed that every morning and evening there was a struggle between light and dark. However, I believe it’s both tradition and a certain feeling of edginess, of adrenaline that comes when battling the darkness and the, supposed, creatures that inhabit it. After all, one of our best stories and traditions consists of copying a man whom bested the devil and uses a hollowed out gourd to light his way through the darkness.
So, in the face of all of this, does Christmas even come close? Don’t get me wrong. I like Christmas. It’s just, clearly, a different type of holiday. Halloween is about nature, fire, and spooky playfulness. Christmas, these days, is about gifts, family, and peace on earth. There are similarities between the two holidays, but, essentially, they are as different as they could possibly be. Christmas is a time of safety spearheaded by a man who spreads joy around the world. Halloween is a time of mystery and bravery.
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