Zach Petroff | Opinions Editor
I will never forget my first horror genre book, “Say Cheese and Die” by R.L. Stine, from the Goosebumps series. The book told the tale of a possessed polaroid camera that would take prophetic pictures with an unfortunate twist. When I turned the last page, ending with one of Stine’s classic cliffhangers, that was when I knew I wanted to be a writer.
My fascination with horror grew from there. My grandmother made a deal with me that she would buy me a new book after I was done reading the previous one. It was a deal she would likely (but never admittedly) regret as my nose seemed to be cemented inside of books.
I was hooked. My father would have to install a clip-on lamp on my bunk-bed to avoid keeping my step brother awake as I plunged through horrific tales deep into the night.
It was not long before I graduated to more mature reading material. I became fascinated with horror writers such as Stephen King, Anne Rice, Peter Straub and H.G. Wells. Every trip to the video store consisted of at least one rental of a slightly non-age-appropriate horror movie.
For an awkward, nerdy kid, Halloween was a sanctuary. It was the time of year that I felt people understood my fascination with the bizarre. While others find comfort in the more traditional holidays, like singing Christmas carols, I cannot help but get that fuzzy feeling when the leaves start to die as an indication for the upcoming All Hallow’s Eve.
It is about time that we, as a country and a culture, give Halloween the recognition it deserves to become a federal holiday.
There is a case to be made that Halloween might be one of the most inclusive holidays on the American calendar. There is no real religious requirement to observe the holiday. Sure, the Catholic religion observes Halloween as All Souls Day, just before All Saints Day on Nov. 1. All Souls Day commemorates the faithfully departed, but the true essence of Halloween, in American culture, is free from any religious affiliation.
Unlike other federal holidays, like Columbus days, there is not a reproposing of history or shameful backstory that drives protest for the removal of that holiday’s namesake. Halloween may be about skeletons, but not the type that live in colonialists’ closet.
And while holidays are often steeped in tradition, such as serving turkey or watching your uncle down his fourth Martini while he berates his third wife in front of everyone before dinner is served, Halloween offers a level of variety. There is no one single culturally-acceptable way to celebrate. Kids have the opportunity to trick-or-treat, while older kids have the opportunity to cause mischief around the neighborhood. If social outings are your thing, Halloween parties are an excellent way to celebrate with family and friends. If the combination of social anxiety and fear of missing out has you burdened down, put on a mask and enjoy the company of others in anonymity.
If your idea of celebrating the holiday is staying home, nothing is more “Halloween” than turning the lights off, stealing a young person’s candy stash and staying up late to watch scary movies. A night with Freddy, Jason or the little girl from “Poltergeist” is still a perfectly acceptable way to celebrate the holiday.
For the thrill seekers out looking to get their adrenaline pumping, what better way to celebrate the holiday than by paying to have the ever-living-crap scared out of you? Not only do haunted houses promote local businesses and artists, one can only truly feel alive when they feel like they are about to die.
Also, let’s keep in mind that there is a lot more pressure that comes with most other federal holidays. There is not large meal to prepare or holiday than most other federal holidays. There is no pressure from your other family members hammering on why you are in your early-mid-30s and still not married.
In addition, Halloween has the ability to still be romantic while avoiding the societal pressure of a Valentine’s Day or a News Year’s Day. There are limited – if not reasonable – expectations on Oct. 31, but there are few things more romantic than a synchronized pairing of costumes. I’ll take dressing up as Jim and Pam from “The Office” over spending a cold February evening at an expensive dinner watching the disappointment in her eyes.
Halloween truly celebrates the best at what this world offers, creativity and a vigor of life. Under the guise of spookiness and the undead, the fall holiday ignites the imagination. The true meaning of Halloween is not fear, but underneath the dead bodies and monsters is a celebration of life.