The Philosophy of Halloween

On “Bonfire Night”, November 5th, in the UK, we celebrate the torture and hanging of Guy Fawkes by letting off loud fireworks late at night in nature sanctuaries, parks, and gardens. We know why we are celebrating it - and its great for the kids.

On “Halloween”, October 31st, here and abroad, we wear gloomy horror kitsch costumes and sometimes demand money with threats of inconsequential ribaldry. Unlike “Bonfire Night”, we don’t know why we are doing it - and its great for the kids.


  1. Halloween is a celebration of some sort…
    But if it was a celebration we would not wear joke Frankensteinian costumes and make fun of pagan religions.
  2. Halloween is a time for mocking the dead and the supernatural.
    This makes more sense, but God isn’t mocked, nor do people dress up as comedic Abraham Lincolns, etc. Besides which, when asked, no-one would say that this is why they are doing it.

There’s no doubt that Halloween was intended by science and christianity as a time for mocking the unfamiliar, but no-one really notices that any more. So, my analysis is that Halloween is not a celebration but is like a traffic jam wave. It slows you down, makes you do thing you wouldn’t want to do, but the reason for it has long since gone - and its great for the kids.

It’s true. Halloween is great fun for kids. I remember the Halloweens of my childhood, and they were fun, going Trick or Treating, and especially the parties where we’d dress up in costumes and bob for apples. One time there was a sleepover with my friends where we watched The Beast with Five Fingers, and of course it scared me to death and traumatized me for years, but it was fun.

I think Halloween originated as a contradiction to All Saints Day, which is celebrated on November 1st. The word Halloween is a contraction of All Hallows Eve, meaning the eve of All Saints. Superstitions abound around Halloween, the time when cemeteries come alive and the ghosts and banshees shriek and fly through the night. Then the next day they all go back to sleep in their graves, people go to church to honor all the saints, God’s in his heaven and all’s right with the world again.

why do people take things so seriously? “mocking the dead” wtf. who cares, they’re dead. you think their feelings are hurt? is that how you think you’ll spend your afterlife? moping around getting offended because people are mocking you?

Umm… words fail. Are you off on your own trip?

did you read the OP?

Yes, but it was your take on it that seemed truly bizarre.

He called halloween a time for mocking the dead, and he implied that halloween is really just a xenophobic holiday, which, to me, further implies that it’s a bad holiday. My point was that, even if it is about mocking the dead, that doesn’t make it a bad holiday, because who cares.

I thought the point was that Halloween has lost its original energy and intent. I didn’t see the xenophobia. I thought the OP’s main point was that it is fun for kids, and that’s about it.

I spoke about the former fears and superstitions that drove Halloween activities and rituals in the olden days. Maybe we should take a trip in Professor Peabody’s Wayback Machine and check it out for ourselves. :sunglasses:

that’s pretty much the epitome of xenophobia

anyway, i think i perhaps misread what Mr.Jones meant by his post. perhaps he’s saying that it’s not so bad because nobody cares about the original meaning. i thought he was saying it was bad because of the original meaning. my mistake.

No! No! No! My whole point was that you can’t say “what” is great for the kids: You haven’t said what Halloween actually is or does, so you can’t say its great for the kids.

That’s right. Why care about the dead when you can dress up like them and have a bit of fun with it all.

S’rite. But then you can have a bit of fun by dressing up like them and generally taking the mick because they’re dead so you can.

Science’s and Cristianity’s image of a joke Frankensteinian costume is their own, as is their other images of the socially-censored kitsch grotesque that we call “Halloween”. They are not substantial enough, potentially, to be arguments.