Since Sept. 11, Americans consider carefully the words they choose, the references they make and now the holidays they celebrate. Halloween has recently come under fire by some Americans who want to forgo or, at the very least, limit this year’s celebration. Kevin Horrigan, editorial columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, articulated the reasons for this stance in his editorial “A Holiday We Can Do Without.” He writes: “Halloween is a festival of the dead. Some festival. We’ve had lots of real dead people lately … Substituting patriotic costumes – Uncle Sam, the Statue of Liberty, Dick Cheney (yes, Dick Cheney masks are hot) – doesn’t help much. It’s still phony and still morbid … ‘But kids love Halloween.’ Tough. It’s a great time to teach them about sacrifice.”
Some people perennially dislike Halloween, believing it’s too closely related to the occult. But this year the issue is whether Halloween is still appropriate in light of the Sept. 11 attacks. Well, it is. Most Americans, especially those in New York, know to take extra care when choosing their costumes this year, a mindset mirrored in store fronts where pumpkins and American flags have replaced last year’s gory displays.
Also, the nation needs Halloween. Americans deserve time to relax, be with friends, laugh, dance, drink and be merry. They need to ogle their friends dressed as a heroic and hulky fireman or a lithe little Statute of Liberty. And the fact that people are buying patriotic costumes proves a point: this holiday is a morale booster only the Fourth of July could beat. Still, we’re lucky it’s Halloween. The struggling economy needs the projected $6.9 billion people will spend on candy, costumes and decorations this Halloween – second only to the winter holidays’ sales.
Another major concern in restricting Halloween is the impact it will have on American children. The World Trade Center succumbed to terrorists, adult Americans succumbed to terror, but the large majority of children live in their own separate world of video games and kick-the-can. Aside from the noticeable effects the incident had on their parents, these children live relatively unaffected – at least until someone takes away their Halloween. The terrorists, then, will have played an unforgivable trick on American children – they will have put terror into terms children can understand: the world is so screwed up, we can’t have Halloween. Terrorists must not be allowed to redefine American childhood.
So this Halloween, dress up, go out and have some fun. Follow the advice of our President and go on with your lives. Lose yourself in the ephemeral fears and pleasures of Halloween, and enjoy this respite from real monsters.