Why We Need Halloween

Is Halloween good or evil? On the surface, it seems that Halloween is about scary movies, costumes, parties, candies, and a reason to scare our friends and family. Not much is said about the origin of Halloween or how it came to be a part of North American culture. If you have a look at Halloween from an entrepreneur perspective, however, you can see that it brings out qualities in people that should remain after all the Halloween candy is gone.

Face your fears; leave that comfort zone

October 31st is about more than horror. It’s about facing our fears: freaky ghosts, bizarre clowns, and creepy crawly spiders. People challenge themselves to brave haunted houses to get a fright from costumed actors jumping out suddenly at them. Some people enter cemeteries at night, or take cameras to supposedly cursed buildings to find proof of an afterlife. It seems we have it in us that night to brave our darkest terrors just for a little fun.

cropped_Main_jackolantern_jack_o_lantern_turnip_wikicommons
Jack-o-lanterns were originally made from turnips not pumpkins. This face looks frightening. (Credit: Irish Central)

As an entrepreneur, I’m always having to push myself and other entrepreneurs out of their comfort zone. When you face your fears, learning happens. For example, you build your confidence. You also start to rewire your brain into focusing on the best thing that could happen, and whether you can survive the experience. Halloween is just another reason to step out of your comfort zone.

When I was a girl, I was afraid of spiders, so I went to the library one day and borrowed ten books on spiders to learn what I could about them and to find out if a fear of them was justified. When I was an adult, my friends asked me to go to a haunted house. They wanted a chance to scream and be frightened; I challenged myself to stay calm in a tense situation. My friend and I entered a room in the house that was pitch black.  At the room entrance, I visualized walking through the dark at a normal pace, before actually walking into the darkness, while focusing on a mental image of me walking calmly from room entrance to exit.

foggy-mist-forest-trees-42263
Walking into a haunted house is one way to face your fears.

The reality, however, was shockingly different from my mental image. Instead of walking in a calm and collected manner, I almost ran through the room to return to the light on the other side. Being in the dark and anticipating someone jumping out at me was definitely not in my comfort zone. But I can at least say I attempted to get uncomfortable. 

Mindset and reward

Halloween is a psychological experience. Not only can you face your fears, but you can also work on self discipline. Candy seems to be everywhere. And if you’re a Halloween enthusiast, the chances to part ways with your money are also plentiful.

Halloween brings much business to retailers. Some recent Halloween spending stats: two-thirds of Americans hand out candy, spending an average of $25 each. Costumes make up a large part of the Halloween expense, with men spending about $96 each, and $77 each for women. The costumes are for men, women, children, and even pets. On average, buyers spend $86 each on Halloween candy, decor, and/or costumes. That works out to 6.9 to 9 billion a year spent on Halloween since 2012.

pexels-photo-607817
People are willing to spend money on costumes and decorations.

At the end of October, candy is promoted in stores, found in bowls on office reception desks, and is abundant at parties. You can also get them on sale post Halloween. As an entrepreneur, I would like to say that I can control myself around sweets, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes I have a cheat day and eat more than a day’s share of leftover Halloween candy.

On the flip side, treats can also be used as a reward for going to the gym or climbing sets of stairs. It’s a time to reflect on health and fitness goals. Self discipline is important, so those candies can be used as small rewards for hitting daily or weekly goals. It’s all about mindset.

Empowerment and sense of community

Halloween is also a time to change identity and blend in with the crowd. For one night, either at a Halloween party or on Halloween night itself, we can be someone else. We can dress as superheroes and pretend we have superpowers at Halloween. At a costume party I went to with a superhero theme, people talked about what powers they had. Wonder Woman, Batman, and The Flash wannabes had chosen people with qualities that they admired or wanted for themselves. I wondered if they did have the power of super strength or flight, then would they use these powers after Halloween to help people? Imagine how different the world would be if people kept their superpowers and engaged in philanthropy for a whole month after October 31!

What I really like about Halloween is the sense of community that it brings. For example, at the Parade of Lost Souls, several people got together at the community centre to follow a parade route through a neighbourhood. A lot of planning and cooperation must have gone into coordinating street traffic so people could follow a route from block to block to view costumed characters enacting scenes.

Also, on Halloween night, thick crowds of adults and children walked through the streets of Burkeville to go trick-or-treating at well-decorated houses. It’s the only time of year when it’s not at all creepy to gawk at the unusual collection of scarecrows and gravestones in a front yard, and then walk up to the lighted front door to say hello to a neighbour. The endless density of the crowds was amazing, and an indicator of how popular this neighbourhood was for the occasion.

20171031_190817
Children walk up to a house for candy.

Costumes, candy, and haunted houses are only a small part of this night. It’s a time to reach out of your comfort zone to challenge yourself, as well as become a part of a community of people who share the same interest. That to me is the heart of what Halloween is: the people who celebrate it.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s