Halloween is that special time of year when we get to throw off our day-to-day personae and adopt masks of mayhem and terror in the pursuit of the natural fodder of the chaos hungry - junk food.
This is a new thing for us Kiwigians - a thing we've learned from American TV shows and films and the bargain bins of the Warehouse in the dying days of October.
Some of the greatest moments of pop culture history have included references to this weirdest of holidays: In cinema E.T., Donnie Darko and horror masterpiece Halloween (kind of obviously) all revolve around this turn of the mystical year.
TV shows in the US can't go a season without the Halloween special either - weekly horror extravaganza Supernatural is particularly deft with them, and The Simpsons' Halloween episodes are legendary. In the world of rock, My Chemical Romance guitarist Frank Iero celebrates his birthday on October 31st, making it a practically High Holy day for my little emo brothers and sisters.
But do we Kiwis need to celebrate it?
Halloween is an autumnal holiday, which makes sense. Back in the pre-antibiotics day, Winter was a pretty crummy time for everyone. Who knew if you and your weak, gruel fed lungs were going to make it out alive? Carving that Jack-O-Lantern and burning that tallow must have seemed like a pretty good distraction from the very real possibility of contracting Spanish Flu/Typhus/Scarlet fever and dying, age nine, in a puddle of your own bodily fluids.
So it's the wrong time of year for us to do this stuff. Halloween is about bringing light to dark places; about burning stuff to ward off the winter and celebrating the harvest of foods that will get us through the bleakest season. Only, here it's light until 9pm right and we're not harvesting jack. It's SPRING, it should be our Easter - our celebration of re-birth. But instead we're setting alight pagan candles and putting costumes on over our clothes.
Likewise, dressing up as The Big Bad must have given people in the olden days, with pretty much zero control over the real big baddies - disease, unhygienic living conditions and ignorance - a fleeting sense of power and control.
But these days is anyone really scared of the flu, or vampires, or wolf men or Frankenstein's monster any more? I get a jab for the flu and forget about it. And since Vamps became the object of desire for every tween in the country, and zombies are now so ubiquitous the US Centre For Disease Control felt it important to create a Zombie Preparedness Programme, real life has officially become more terrifying than things that go bump in the night. In fact, real life is frequently as terrifying as a horror movie. Ask the good people of Miami.
These days it takes more than dressing your kid up like Elvis to scare off the demons haunting our society. Maybe dressing your kid up like Jerry Brownlee would do it? I shudder to think.
So why should we celebrate Halloween? Because it's a chance to cavort, and I don't know if you've noticed, but opportunities for cavorting are few on the ground these days - Rugby Sevens notwithstanding.
Dressing up is fun. My Star Trek Science Officer uniform tells me this is the case and just like the Trek universe, there is infinite life, in infinite variations in the back of the dress-ups box... Not all of them awesome, but most of them kind of rad. So you get to dress up and then people give you chocolate. I mean, why are we even having this conversation? It ends with, "and then people give you chocolate". Nuff said.
So lets do it, lets do this Halloween thing. Lets run through the streets in mum's best linen sheet shouting "BOO" and demanding mini Mars Bars from our neighbours, because life is kind of tough sometimes and Halloween is a weirdly fun break from that.
So what will you be wearing on Wednesday?
- Kapi-Mana News