Whenever the ber months roll in, one thing immediately comes to mind among Filipinos: Christmas.
It’s in our tradition to get into the Christmas spirit as early as September. Even if it’s about 100 days away, we’re already grooving to Jose Mari Chan’s Christmas In Our Hearts or Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You. Even if the cold, December air is still so very far away, we’re already sprucing up our homes with garlands and twinkling lights.
But that's just how it goes around here.
Christmas isn’t called the most wonderful time of the year for no reason as it brings together families and makes them closer than ever through gift-giving and Noche Buena. But because of its high regard, it overshadows one holiday I think we should all be equally celebrating: Halloween.
As much as Christmas is tremendously hyped in the Philippines, my heart just never really gets the same excitement towards the holiday compared to Halloween.
The reason for my love for the spooky holiday is simple: I love everything horror.
While this may be taken the wrong way, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I am absolutely fascinated with things that can fill me with goosebumps and send shivers down my spine.
Watching films and TV shows about witches casting their evil spells, or about masked psychopaths butchering a group of dumb teenagers, or creepy dolls and haunted mansions puts a smile on my face as I get to experience a thrill that ramps up my heart rate.
That being said, it saddens me that the month that was supposed to be reserved for spooks and scares is instead already overpowered by bright decorations and merry songs. Not once in my neighborhood did I ever see someone hang fake cobwebs or paper bats outside their home, and not once in my high school did I ever experience a Halloween party.
If we can throw fun Christmas parties every year, then why can't we do the same for Halloween? If Christmas has children going from house to house singing holiday well wishes in exchange for some coins, then surely it wouldn't hurt for them to do some trick-or-treating in their favorite costumes in exchange for candy.
But it doesn't surprise me. The Philippines is a predominantly religious country after all, and people celebrating what is considered "grim" and "evil" is looked down upon.
In an article by TIME Magazine, it was pointed out how "many conservative Evangelical Christians look ahead to the holiday with dread" and how some pastors and parents in America may warn against celebrating Halloween because of its connection to "demonic spirits and curses." But just because you enjoy something scary doesn't mean you're selling your soul to the devil.
There is nothing wrong with celebrating Halloween because it allows us to touch upon our fear of monsters and death and the unknown in a way that is exciting and exhilarating. It helps us confront the things that we are most afraid of and turns it into a celebration where we can be one with our scaries and fears.
Like Christmas, there are several delightful activities to do during Halloween that make it worthy of a celebration.
The first and perhaps the most obvious reason is dressing up in costumes of frightening and supernatural beings. This tradition is rooted in Celtic harvest festivals, wherein people welcome a bountiful harvest at the end of the summer and wear costumes to ward off ghosts.
Now, it has evolved into something where you can unleash all your creative juices as Halloween costumes can be a fun way to stimulate your artistic side and think of imaginative ways to dress up as anyone you want. Wearing costumes can also offer a temporary escape from the harshness of real life as we're allowed to take the role of someone else and freely express ourselves.
Of course, Halloween isn't complete without getting scared. Watching horror movies with a group of friends or braving haunted attractions and theme parks can give you a thrilling rush that makes you feel more alive than you have ever been.
Last but definitely not the least is trick-or-treating, which is pretty self-explanatory. After all, who doesn't like free candy? It's also a great opportunity for children to get to know their neighbors and connect with other kids through their costumes, especially since high-tech gadgets have compromised their socializing skills.
Once again, this piece is not meant to degrade Christmas nor present it as a weaker holiday than Halloween. Both festivities have their own unique traditions that are worth celebrating, which is why it would be a dream of mine if we could observe them equally and joyously.