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What Makes Halloween Special?

John loves to read, especially crime, fantasy, psychological thrillers, and sci-fi novels. He also writes poetry and short fiction.

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween

Why Do We Love Halloween?

Growing up as a child in Australia in the '60s and '70s, Halloween was no big deal, mainly because it isn't celebrated in Australia. However, I was always enthralled (as were my friends) by television shows and movies from the US or Britain that had anything to do with Halloween. We wished that we could dress up in scary costumes and be part of the fun.

Now, finally, it is being embraced here as well. Stores usually have Halloween themes and stock lots of spooky costumes and props for the occasion. Even my children never got to celebrate it, but, fortunately, my grandchildren do. They have loved dressing up and going trick-or-treating in the last few years (this year remains to be seen.) Though we still don't get a holiday in this country.

What is it about dressing up in scary costumes (and some not-so-scary ones) and trick-or-treating that makes this day/night so special? Perhaps, we should take a brief look at its origins.

Why do we love Halloween?

Why do we love Halloween?

A Very Brief History of Halloween

Falling between autumn and winter in the Northern Hemisphere, Halloween is a time of celebration and exploring superstition. It's believed to have originated in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, where villagers lit bonfires and wore costumes to ward off roaming evil spirits.

Then, in the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a day to honour the martyrs and saints recognized by the Catholic Church. This was called All Saints' Day, and the evening before this soon became known as All Hallows Eve, which we now call Halloween.

In time, Halloween evolved into a popular community, child-friendly, trick-or-treating event that now occurs across cultures worldwide. Halloween connects people and communities and brings joy to those who love to celebrate it. Let's hope this can continue for years to come. (source: history.com)

It’s as much fun to scare as to be scared.

— Vincent Price

A perfect Halloween scene

A perfect Halloween scene

What Is So Great About Halloween?

1. It Allows the Expression of Creativity

Halloween inspires creativity and lets our imagination run wild as to what or who we can become. There is no script or plan, and we can choose any identity or persona that excites us. Whether we spend hours and days making our costumes or purchasing one the day before, there is fun and creativity involved in temporarily transforming into something far different from our ordinary day-to-day selves. Halloween allows us to play out our dreams, our aspirations, and our fantasies.

2. It Strengthens Community Spirit

Most of us lead busy lives. We take the car to work, school, or the grocery store, kids to sports, and back home without really connecting to our neighbours or community. Halloween is a time that brings people together outside to spend time walking and talking with each other. Halloween isn't stopped by the weather. It may rain, snow, wind, or hail, but most try their best to brave the elements. Spending time together and feeling like a community strengthens us. Will it be a different year with the COVID 19 spectre hanging over our heads?

3. It Promotes Outdoor Activity

Many of us in Western society spend, if not the majority, at least a significant portion of our life inside. Many office workers spend eight hours each day sitting at a desk with artificial lighting and staring at a computer screen. Now, with more and more of us working from home or remotely, this may have even increased.

When we do get outside, it is often in a frenzy of hurried activity like going for a quick jog, walking the dog, collecting the mail, etc. Trick-or-treating allows for a slow walk outdoors where we have no goal other than to enjoy the evening (and maybe get a treat or two.) We can take in the sights, sounds, and smells as we enjoy time outside as a family or with friends.

4. It Encourages Giving and Receiving

Some people actually look forward to having little ghosts and witches knock upon their door to say "trick or treat." To an elderly neighbour, they bring the vitality of youth, which is infectious (in the best way) and which may be missing from these seniors' lives. The children receive a treat as a reward for their effort, teaching them the value of "giving and receiving," which is always a wonderful lesson.

I love Halloween, and I love that feeling: the cold air, the spooky dangers lurking around the corner.

— Evan Peters

Jack-o-Lantern or Pumpkin Head

Jack-o-Lantern or Pumpkin Head

A Halloween Lament

Texas chainsaw murderers, or zombies eating brains,

Werewolves howling at the moon, or cries of the insane,

Black cats running ‘cross our path, bringing bad luck again,

Vampires with a lust for blood, and spectres rattling chains,

Psychopaths are all around, and blood runs down the drains,

Witches cast their evil spells, while sadists inflict pain,

The Grim Reaper comes a’calling on a ghostly train.

Grim Reaper: Image by Ray Shrewsberry • Thanks for Downloads and Likes from Pixabay

Grim Reaper: Image by Ray Shrewsberry • Thanks for Downloads and Likes from Pixabay

Suppress your inner terrors for this All Hallows’ Eve,

For demons are all free to roam. If you’re timid take your leave.

Are they fake or are they real? It depends what you believe.

But if you should go missing I’m sure someone will grieve.


The Jack-o-Lantern’s eerie face in windows can be seen,

Will trick-or-treating children, and some rebelling teens,

Dressed as ugly monsters, invade the streets this Halloween.?

Or will they be all trapped at home by a foe unseen?


I know there’s evil lurking, but it’s not where it may seem.

There is horror on the Internet and on the TV screen.

This virus keeps on spreading, and the death toll makes me scream.

The world won’t be the same again, it’s like a scary dream.

Like a scary dream

Like a scary dream

This ghost that’s haunting houses, it seems, can pass through walls,

It’s floating in the airways and spreading in the halls.

I’ve never seen the likes of this, not since I first could crawl.

Vaccines are being given, but is that helping at all?

Scientists must find a way to make the spreading stall.

Until then we must be brave, and keep on standing tall.

I pray to God to help us, but will he answer my call?

We have a chance to do something extraordinary. As we head out of this pandemic we can change the world. Create a world of love. A world where we are kind to each other. A world were we are kind no matter what class, race, sexual orientation, what religion or lack of or what job we have. A world we don't judge those at the food bank because that may be us if things were just slightly different. Let love and kindness be our roadmap.

— Johnny Corn

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 John Hansen

Comments

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 18, 2021:

Jo, I am sure it was a very special night for your daughters as their big chance to indulge in candy. Thank you for reading.

Jo Miller from Tennessee on October 18, 2021:

For my daughters, now in their 40's, Halloween was their favorite holiday next to Christmas. I didn't normally keep much, if any, candy in the house, and on that night they could indulge.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 12, 2021:

Yes, they did email me. It was called “A Halloween Lament “ the title of the poem, but they changed it to fit the niche site Holidappy better they said. They seem to be on an editing spree lately. I had another edited then moved from Holidappy to LetterPile..”Shadowheart.”

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 12, 2021:

They changed your title? Did they send you an email advising you of the edits?

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 11, 2021:

Hi Shauna, thank you for sharing the memories of what Halloween used to be like for you, and your brother. Going out twice in two different costumes to get a double dose of candy..ingenious!

I almost didn’t realise this was my article being commented on, because HP changed the name when they moved it to a niche site…but no big deal.

I am glad you liked the poem and found it nice and creepy.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 11, 2021:

Halloween was a big deal when I was growing up in Philly. Mischief Night was the night before Halloween. That's when cars would get soaped, trees would get toilet papered, and front doors would have raw eggs splattered against them. We were never allowed to participate in Mischief Night, but the results were seen the next day.

Like Bill, we used pillow cases as our goodie-gatherers. We also made our costumes from old clothes and what have you. One year my brother went as a bum (think Ernest T from The Andy Griffith Show). My mom burned a wine bottle cork and patted his face with the ashes to look like a scruffy face. That year, after making the rounds, my brother went home, changed into something else and made the rounds again! He was a candy freak back in the day.

Things are different now, though. Too many bad guys out walking around and using Halloween as a ploy to spread their wickedness. I don't feel comfortable opening my door to strangers in the dark. Sad state we're in, isn't it?

Love your poem, though. Spooky, scary, creepy, and on point with regard to this invisible beast that just won't let up!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 05, 2021:

Hi Devika, itis great to get your lovely comment. I am glad you found this interesting. I hope you enjoyed your vacation back to South Africa. I can’t wait to read about it.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on October 05, 2021:

Hi Jodah so interesting to know about Halloween. You have enlightened us about another day of fun and at his time got to celebrate what makes us feel different.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 05, 2021:

Hello Zeenat, thank you so much for reading and appreciating my work.

Zeenat on October 05, 2021:

So beautifully written. I enjoyed it. Thank you!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 04, 2021:

Bill, I am glad I could inform you a little on the basic history of Halloween. Hopefully, you get to celebrate it in some form this year. I imagine the all out decorations and big block parties need to be seen to be appreciated.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 04, 2021:

Hi Flourish, it will be interesting to see how the trick or treating goes this year. I hope it is an enjoyable time whatever form it takes. I am glad you enjoyed the poem.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 04, 2021:

I really appreciate you reading and commenting on my poetry, MG. It has always been my goal to attempt to write poetry that appeals to people who say they don’t like or understand poetry. That may be futile but it doesn’t stop me trying. Your comment tells me that it could be possible.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on October 04, 2021:

Great job, John. I really had no idea the history of Halloween even though we’ve been doing this since I was a kid. We skipped last year due to Covid, not sure yet what will happen this year. There are some neighborhoods in our town that go all out in decorating to the point where it’s like an outdoor block party. Loved the poem.

FlourishAnyway from USA on October 04, 2021:

We modified our trick or treating last year by putting it at the curb. I enjoyed how you captured all of the scary highlights then brought it home to the vaccine.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on October 04, 2021:

John, I don't comment much on poems but you are an exception. Lovely poems that enliven life. Thanks for sharing.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 04, 2021:

Good for you Brenda, keeping the tradition alive for the neighborhood kids.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 04, 2021:

Thank you, Rinita. It is always a pleasure to receive your comments and I am pleased you found this enjoyable and informative. I try my best not to write about the pandemic too much but, at times, it is hard to ignore.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 04, 2021:

Peggy, with the way the world is we all wish to return to the good old days of even three or four years ago. But, yes I am sure you can fondly remember the Halloween treats you could enjoy as a child.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on October 04, 2021:

Peggy...

I remember those days when the popcorn machines & candied apples were made.

We also got Giant candy bars.

Not these little piddly things.

The next door neighbors would always get us a special treat.

A tradition I still today for the neighborhood kids

Rinita Sen on October 04, 2021:

Wonderful poetry. Touches the subject of the pandemic well without being too melancholy. Like you, I've also known halloween only from the TV. It was good to read about the history.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 04, 2021:

Time will tell if Halloween will be filled with kids on the streets going door to door in search of candy this year. Last year was pretty quiet due to Covid. Oh to return to the good old days!

Back when I was a kid, we only went to neighbors we knew, and it was safe to eat homemade goodies like candied apples and popcorn balls. I am glad that your grandchildren can participate in the fun of Halloween.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 04, 2021:

Thank you for enjoying the poem, MizB, and for sharing your childhood memories. I am sure it was a wonderful pumpkin tutu, and popcorn balls sound good.

It is sad that Covid may spoil the fun for the children of today, even though they never had the same freedoms as we once did.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on October 04, 2021:

John, I think this is going to be my favorite Halloween poem. You expressed our feelings so accurately. I didn't realize that Halloween had not been celebrated in Australia. It was one of my favorite holidays as a child, but that was so long ago that even nine-year-olds could trick or treat unaccompanied by an adult. Of the treats, popcorn balls made by caring neighbors were my favorite. My favorite costume was an orange pumpkin ballerina tutu that my aunt made for my cousin to be in a school play. She passed it on to me after she outgrew it.

But a sign of the times: I was in a store this week and noticed a handmade sign on a rack of masks. It said, "Due to covid, if you try on a mask, you have to buy it." I'm sorry that covid is having such a detrimental effect on the youngsters.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 04, 2021:

Hi Bill. I never had the chance to experience that. Wow, pillowcases full of candy is one hell of a lot. Thank you for reading.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 04, 2021:

Hi Mr. Happy. I am glad you enjoy observing Halloween costumes and decorations where you are, and also that you liked my poem. Thank you for sharing that song “Heathens” from Suicide Squad as well.i enjoyed it too. I shall add that to my list for a future poem subject. Have a great week.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 04, 2021:

Fun read! As kids, we would take pillow cases out, and fill several of them. We had so much candy we couldn't possibly eat it all, but that didn't stop us from going out and accumulating it. :)

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 04, 2021:

Hi Chitrangada, I am pleased that you found this an i formative article and enjoyed the poem. It sounds like India is a lot like Australia in regard to Halloween. Have a delightful week.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 04, 2021:

Brenda, thank you for reading this and giving updated information on what Halloween is now like and how times have changed. Yes, if my grandchildren go trick-or-treating they have a parent or older sibling with them. I hope you get to see a ghost or two and any celebrations are enjoyable.

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on October 04, 2021:

I never grew-up with Halloween but it's fun to see all the costumes and decorations. I enjoyed your poem too. Here's a Halloween topic for a poem: "Heathens". I like the song a lot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UprcpdwuwCg

Alrighty, enjoyed your writing as always - thanks and all the very best!

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on October 04, 2021:

Hello John!

An informative article about the Halloween, it’s origin, history and other details. Now, even in India also, people celebrate the Halloween, thanks to the internet.

I had a rough idea about it, but your article is educational in giving more information.

Your poem as always, is beautifully penned, and I enjoyed reading it.

Thank you for sharing and wish you a wonderful week ahead.

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Rebels. on October 04, 2021:

You are right, John. I believe it is beneficial to learn other languages. I was just having a fun time with you. Catalan, I believe, is a tough language to learn, but it is worth learning, which is why I am learning it. Right?

I'm also taking French classes. It's good to know that you can count to 10 in Japanese and French. French is a very beautiful language. Like you, I also admire people who can speak different languages. I also make a lot of mistakes. It's normal, I believe. :) Take care!

Blessings always!!

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on October 04, 2021:

John

I'm glad your grandchildren get to experience Halloween.

It used to be so special here, but nowadays times have changed.

With too many people using drugs and sexual offenders, many miss out on going door to door for the parents just don't trust it.

They celebrate in big events by churches and the city, but there are those of us who still leave our porch lights on..hoping to see a ghost or two.

Your poem has Covid-19 right. It seems like a ghost that can go through walls.

I'm not sure if it will hamper this years celebration.

Great article and poem.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 04, 2021:

Hi Fran, Halloween still isn't big here as far as decorating homes and stores etc but it is slowly catching on. We don't get a holiday though :(

Yes, there is a good and bad side to most things, so I like to show both whenever possible. Have a great one...Halloween.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 04, 2021:

Thank you so much, Pamela. I am always happy to know you enjoy my articles, and glad it was both informative and scary.

fran rooks from Toledo, Ohio on October 04, 2021:

John, you always seem to invoke thoughts to remind us about good and bad. Thank you for your article. Halloween is the 2nd largest holiday in America and decorations abound everywhere.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 04, 2021:

Your article about Halloween in excellent. Your give us a wealth of information on the history of Halloween. Then, you wrote an excellent, scary poem. I enjoyed reading everything. Thank you for sharing this information.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 04, 2021:

Misbah, I look forward to reading your Halloween piece soon. I am pleased that you loved this one and that reading it improved your day. I imagine Catalan must be very difficult. I admire anyone who can speak even one other language fluently. I am still learning all the time in regard to English :) and still make mistakes. I can count to ten in French and Japanese but that is about the extent of my ability.

I am sure God will respond, and I wish you a happy Halloween on advance also.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 04, 2021:

Rosina, thank you for such a wonderful comment. I am glad you loved what I wrote. Blessings to you.

Rosina S Khan on October 04, 2021:

This is a beautiful account of the Halloween event. You portray all the good sides of it and end up mentioning the COVID virus as a ghost plaguing our lives. How wonderful! We can only hope God will spare us from the evilness of the deadly virus. Great write-up, John! I loved all of it.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 04, 2021:

Thank you MsDora. We have to try to consider both sides of every situation to be objective. Blessings to you.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 04, 2021:

John, you covered the whole range of emotions during Halloween. You had me reflecting on what's great about the event, then you plunged me into the horrors. You fo everything do well.

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