Just Saying . . .: Revisiting Halloween
Thursday, October 27, 2016 10:16 AM
People, we’ve been over this before but it hasn’t stopped the trend. As disturbing as it sounds, Halloween is getting to be more and more fun. This is not how it should be. We have lots of holidays for fun and festivity. We have only one Halloween and it is to celebrate fear, anxiety, dread and death.
Contact the author by sending e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, you might find him in the back woods looking for clowns. © 2016, Tom Sadowski
These are very important survival mechanisms — except for death of course — that allowed us to progress from caves to the mall, and they deserve to be celebrated — except for the getting-to-the-mall part, especially if you don’t have the shopping gene. This is the gene that allows you to enjoy shopping and in my family it is split between males that don’t have it and females that have two copies, I’m sure.
Although it may seem so, Halloween did not originate to support the sugar and home decorating industries. The holiday has a long and convoluted history not unlike the stories I used to tell my mother in my adolescence when she would ask me where I had been on Halloween eve.
Back around 2,000 years ago the Celts believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth, damaging crops and committing misdemeanors, the night before the New Year, which they pegged as November 1st. They apparently didn’t get the memo about January. People would dress up in costume so that they would fit in with the ghosts and wouldn’t be singled out by the local cops for disturbing the peace.
Centuries pass. Pagans and popes and big-box stores mix in their superstitions, their own holidays and their ability to sell large animated witches and inflatable Stay-Puft Marshmallow ghosts, and here we are. It wasn’t always this way; Halloween was so full of pranks and witchcraft that at the start of the 1900s communities began encouraging parents to purge anything grotesque or frightening from the holiday to make it all pleasant for the kiddies. This worked very well and everybody went along with it — except for Detroit, which as we know eventually went a little overboard with the frightening part. It went so well that everything Halloween today is all happy-scary if not just happy-happy.
Enter the clowns.
One bright spot in the midst of all this depressing news about Halloween becoming so delightful is the reemergence of clowns as agents of danger and fear. Recently there have been incidences all over the country of clowns scaring people and even committing crimes. Oh sure, clowns are all right when they’re contained under the big top or inside a clown car but once they’ve gone feral and take up living down the road in the woods, everybody gets upset.
One police department that arrested a clown recently tried to calm the town by announcing that it wasn’t a real clown but one of the local teenagers dressed as a clown. What a relief to find out it wasn’t a real clown. The question as to what is a real clown if it’s not a person dressed up as a clown swiftly came up on Twitter. Is there something we don’t know about “real” clowns?
Ghostly Manor Thrill Center, Sandusky’s (Ohio) scariest Halloween attraction, announced that it “will continue to incorporate clowns into its haunted house, but not in view of the public.” So what’s the point if they’re not in view of the public? Will they be working as janitors or haunted-house technicians? The mystery deepens.
Now if “real” clowns unite and rise up to save Halloween this year that would be all right with me, although I am on the fence about the righteousness of this kind of move. There are truly funny clowns and some that actually make a living by amusing people and we just can’t suddenly abandon the centuries-old tradition of clowning around and vilify all clowns for the sake of one holiday — except for mimes, which could conceivably be sacrificed for the greater good.
Perhaps we could just borrow the evil clown motif for Halloween and retire it soon after. Anyway, there is a consensus among people that I talk to that we won’t need scary clowns after Halloween: we will have our hands full as we may all have to hide in fear, anxiety and dread after the November election.