Happy Halloween, friends. Or Samhain, if you prefer.
Where I’m from, Halloween is sometimes controversial. People buy candy, decorate their lawns, and dress up in costumes just like anywhere else. But around the start of October, Anti-Halloween flyers start showing up in mailboxes or left underneath the windshield wipers of parked cars.
“It’s Pagan!” said the preacher.
“It’s All Hallows’ Eve,” said others. “That makes it Christian.”
“No,” said others. “It’s Satan’s birthday.”
“You don’t understand,” whispered the handful of pagans and wiccans.
“It’s just harmless fun,” said most people, who carried on as they pleased, while the others argued on.
Some of my schoolmates weren’t allowed to celebrate Halloween. My own church took a softer approach. Instead, we were told Halloween was a time of spiritual tests, where we good Christians of northeast Alabama were called on to defend their hearts, minds, and souls from the Devil’s ever-looming presence. Enjoy the holiday, the preacher would say, but beware.
Regardless of this annual bickering, Halloween was always my favorite holiday. I suppose it’s a little easy for a horror fan, but I don’t care. As a child, the spooky aesthetic and muddled mythology of Halloween spoke to me. I’m not a spiritual person, but there’s something magnetic about the Halloween vibe. I love stories about ghosts, witches, and monsters, but I also love strange history and interesting religious undertones that accompany it. It’s a night filled with mystery. What could be better?
I don’t believe in ghosts, witches, or monsters, but I love those stories. Halloween, in all its forms, gives me something special. On cold October nights, I can stand outside in the darkness, breathe in the cool scent of the season, and pretend, even for a few minutes, that I believe.
In honor of Halloween, I will tell you my own ghost story.