Why do we love Halloween? Is it the costumes? The candy?
Are you ready for Halloween?
According to a recent US National Retail Federation survey, a record 170 million Americans plan to spend $8 billion on Halloween, for costumes, candy and decorations.
English professor Eric Wilson of Wake Forest University says we love the holiday for deeper reasons than just a night of fun, especially during economic difficulties.
Escapism from hard times is part of this. He says that, on Halloween, we can pretend to be someone else, and not focus on worries or regrets.
Celebrating the enchanted is another part of this and takes people’s minds off their “limitations and mortality.”
An important aspect of the holiday is to make it OK to wear a mask. Wilson says,
“To get along in the world we constantly pretend to be nicer or happier than we really are, especially during a difficult economy when to get and keep jobs we are expected to put a good face on things. On Halloween, it’s okay to come out as a mask-wearer and feel relief we no longer have to hide.”
Even the fascination with zombies is explained. Wilson says they are just scary and we like to be scared: “It’s the ultimate thrill ride.”
Read more about Wilson’s theories here.
But what about all that candy from trick or treating? How much is too much? Pediatrics professor Ken Haller at Saint Louis University says Halloween is a social time and kids want to enjoy the holiday perks. He says it is OK for parents to allow their kids to be part of the holiday spirit.
“Eating candy on Halloween is like taking a vacation, kids should not make it a habit,” said Haller. “After the holiday they should feel like they have had enough candy and be willing to go back to their regular diet.”
Parents should, however, stress moderation in eating that candy. Not all of it needs to be eaten (how about freezing some?). Parents can also stress the concept of sharing with those who are not so fortunate. And, of course, dentists like to use Halloween to talk about healthy dental habits and urge parents to reinforce daily brushing habits!
What do you love best about Halloween? Let us know in the comments below.
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