BY RUBEN PEREZ
When October comes around, unusual themes of death, fear, and mischief take front stage. What would normally cause concerns for decorating your home with bats, cobwebs, and body part props on any other day of the year is found acceptable on the day of Halloween.
It's a holiday that pulls the dramatic and mischievous side out of American culture. It's a holiday formed by other holidays from past centuries. Overarching themes of fear and death become not only acceptable but also fascinating on this day – it’s a day on which we are able to find humor and entertainment in these things.
So what motivates us to continue participating in this American tradition year after year?
For some, the artistic side of Halloween has always been appealing, the dramatic, vibrant imagery and themes that contrast with normal everyday life. Halloween creates a balance in america's holidays by covering the full spectrum of human emotion.
For others, it is the way it causes the community to come together. Strangers go to each other’s homes for trick or treating and the thrilling desire to be scare in haunted houses. The trust it takes to enter and receive a handful of candy or a playful scare from a stranger in our day and age is unimaginable, but somehow possible.
But the motivations of Halloween can also cause us to question how much of this day reflects the inner selves of our dishearten culture.
The day rings with a strong sense of escapism. It resonates a deep desire to be liberated from normal everyday life when we have the ability to put on a mask and go beyond who we are and, for one night, be someone that we, normally, are not.
This is not inherently wrong; we all like to pretend to be a character for a moment -- But for some the desire to escape is so strong that it reflects how much of their lives they see as imprisonment. So they abuse this opportunity of non-judgmental freedom.
Over the past 50 years, Halloween has also become a nostalgic symbol of childhood for the nation. Evidence is tangible in the costumes that are created not only for kids but also now for adults. The Halloween costume market for adults has skyrocketed since the 1960s.
Costumes (particularly for women) have become more and more revealing. Almost everything seems to be coupled with the adjective "sexy;” reflecting the unfortunate message of the desire to be desirable.
American culture shows its heart through all of the symbolism and motivations of Halloween. So whether you cringe or get goose bumps when this season comes around, it's good to pause and consider how this holiday reflects our culture.