What is Halloween? It’s a question we don’t normally ask ourselves. I could tell you about my Halloween, I suppose. I spent my Halloween consoling a drunk and heartbroken friend while wearing an SNL-inspired “dick in a box” outfit. Well, to be honest, not all of my Halloween. Not even most of it. Just enough of it to be memorable.
While soaking in his agony, he confided in me that last year he’d been secretly dating a certain girl whom we’d both known. This was interesting news to me, as this was a girl I’d been casually involved with at that time. It seems that he’d been the main man while I’d been the excitement on the side.
He didn’t know about me. I hadn’t known about him. I decided not to enlighten him. Some secrets need to be kept.
Overall, it was a less degenerate Halloween than I’d been hoping for, but it was still pretty weird. I’d give it a B+ overall.
I can tell you about Halloween in general. I can tell you it was a pagan holiday that was co-opted and re-purposed for Christian culture. I can tell you that much of the influence probably comes from ancient Celtic festivals. But that too seems insufficient…
So what of the way we act on Halloween? What of the way we cede responsibility to the masks we wear and let ourselves do things we wouldn’t otherwise have done? Therein seems to lie the real treasure of Halloween…
What is Halloween? Halloween, fundamentally, is a ritual. It is an excuse to don a mask and loosen some of the tensions and attitudes that we need to uphold the rest of the year. It is a way to cede responsibility, to let out some of the madness within, and then go back to our daily lives.
A good Halloween serves much the same purpose as a Dionysian rite, undergoing ritual madness in order to uphold sanity the rest of the year. It is that moment of weakness that makes one’s strength stronger.
In this way, it can be hypothesized that annual rituals like “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” might serve as support for traditional patriarchy and gender roles. Remember, it is not just in college towns that the culture of this cult classic proliferates, but also in blue-collar, small towns across the United States. Does breaking out the fishnets and garters on this one day of the year cement conformity to gender roles the other 364? Given the Dionysian nature of the occurrence, it seems we shouldn’t rule this hypothesis out completely.
In a life devoid of ritual, it is little wonder that we accord Halloween such a place in our culture. Halloween antics (or the memory thereof) suggest a kind of ritual that is all too lacking in this day and age.
In an age devoid of magic, such rituals hint at a type of mystic sorcery that normally we can only conjure up in our imaginations. They are by their nature infused with magic, perhaps even more so than we realize. It is through such magic that communities can come together, winnowing away destructive urges and preparing ourselves for the times ahead.
Halloween is a spiritual successor to the Dionysian rites of old. All the debauchery and degeneracy is channeled for the greater moral good of the community. In this way, Halloween is not only the most paramount of customs, it it arguably the most Neoreactionary of all holidays.
NULLUM MAGNUM INGENIUM SINE MIXTURA DEMENTIAE FUIT