As the only holiday where you can get dressed up and play with strangers Halloween often takes on a life of its own. Some communities are transformed into haunted towns with rows of faux cemetery plots on front lawns, ghosts and goblins perched up on battered wooden benches. NYC prepares for an annual Halloween parade today. My thoughts are focused on finding the more creepy costumes, and whether or not I need to make a last-minute candy purchase or if there is already enough candy at home to hand out to potential trick-or-treaters. While the candy and costumes are fun, scholars hold different beliefs about how and where Halloween started.
Some trace its roots to Paganism, some to Celtic Christian or Catholic celebrations, others to Idolatry. Halloween ties well with the Day of the Dead in Mexico, a three-day religious and celebratory event which starts on 10/31 and honors those who have passed. Similar celebrations occur all around the world. What may have started as a way to connect with the deceased, has become a day to celebrate and indulge in fantasy and self-expression.
Some people will dress up and go out while others will stay in. Do you ever wonder whats behind some of the costume choices we make? Some might say that your choice in a costume is pure fantasy, and a way to explore a role outside of yourself. Others believe its proof of ones inner desires and ideals. Lets look at three of the most common costumes and what meaning they may hold.
1) Evil witch, grim reaper, and other powerful and negative characters- a way to indulge in exploration of exercising power without having any remorse.
2) Sexy nurse, bar maid, gladiator, wrestler- a demonstration of ones sexual prowess and physical attributes.
3) Heroic characters like Superman or Wonder Woman- may be a way to express youthful and playful traits and indulge in the rescue or savior fantasies.
Whether you decide to stay indoors this year or go out and indulge in playing dress-up, it can be fun to question the meaning behind the costumes you will see.