On the Importance of Halloween

By: Laura Cox
Winner of the Fall and Halloween Contest of 2014

At my high school
Halloween was not allowed.
Banned, like Harry Potter.
The school administrators too afraid
Of what witchcraft might summon demons
From the Illuminati-triangled eyes of carved pumpkins.
Allowing instead, the god-fearing alternative
Known as “character dress-up day.”
Where students were encouraged to dress up as their favorite literary heroes
A week after Halloween.
This day, placed safely in November,
Ensured no correlation between my school
And that pagan month of October
And the rituals it entailed.
As long as your favorite literary hero
Was not Dracula, or Hermione Granger,
You should be fine.

This only served to remake “October”
Into a month of forbidden joy in the minds of students.
An idea I see echoed around my college campus.
On October 1st,
Black bats and cobwebs begin to replace falling leaves.
Gravestones move indoors.
Pumpkins glow proudly with carved cats, monsters, and other scary things
Like student loans.
And I listen to “Monster Mash” on repeat
Like my grandma listens to “Jingle Bells” in December.

For some of us, Halloween is more than a character dress-up day
It’s a liberation.
From forced conformity
We suffered too long.
Choosing costumes that invoke the spirits of abnormality,
Betray our darkest wishes,
That allow us to choose our own destiny, if only for one night.

Donning masks like Greek actors
Playing someone other than ourselves for the sake of catharsis.
Sewing our 12-year-old dreams into the seams of robes
We wear for the wizards we will not grow up to be.
But still, for that night,
We allow our childlike awe to bubble up
All witches brew
At the scenes of magic we know will fade by morning.

Every ghost and goblin passing in the street
Reminds us
We are always afraid of what we don’t know, and don’t understand.
Reminds us
Underneath those twisted faces lies someone like us.
Reminds us
All monsters are human.
We are the creators of the only evil we should every fear-
Fear –
That does not leave room for exploration or understanding.
For appreciating perspectives other than your own.
Like lifting the mask
Once the holiday is over
To see the humanity underneath.