Today begins one of the most misunderstood and abused Christian holidays: All Saints Day. The whole triduum: Hallowe’en/All Saints Day/All Souls Day is mainly a “memorial day” for remembering the people of faith who have gone before us. Not only are we inspired by them to triumph over our own troubles, we use the day to encourage one another to keep faith in the face of death.
It is a very serious set of days! They are both sobering and inspirational. Check out some of their history at our site: Celebrating Our Transhistorical Body.
These holidays are popular for more than traditional reasons these days! According to the National Retail Foundation, over half the country will participate in some kind of Hallowe’en festivity and spend about $9 billion doing it. The most likely to celebrate Hallowe’en are not little kids, but 18-24 year olds, up 6% from a decade ago to 90%. 17% of pet owners plan to dress up their pets (the most popular costume for pets is a pumpkin, but superheroes are not far behind). Less people have parties, but almost everyone will show their stuff on social media.
So maybe the title of this movie has a deeper meaning:
In Philadelphia, jack-o-lanterns abound on stoops (and Fairmount Park!). How did this get going so strong? One take on Hallowe’en’s popularity, especially with millennials, is that it emphasizes identity, horror, and transgression; it is all about who we want to be and what we fear becoming.
Today’s young adults, it could be argued, are living in a sort of purgatory. Traditional markers of adult responsibility and independence—family, career, home ownership—have either been delayed or abandoned altogether, by choice or necessity. Transitions to adulthood have become uncertain, drawn out and complicated.
Psychologists and sociologists have started calling the 20s and 30s “emerging adulthood.” More and more it is an era of identity exploration, focusing on the self, and feeling caught between two worlds. There’s also a sense of wonder and possibility. Others have a less rosy view of emerging adulthood, describing it as a time of fear and anxiety about an unknowable future.
What’s more, young adults, despite being highly educated and hardworking compared to older cohorts, rarely find jobs matching their credentials and abilities. But during Hallowe’en, hard work and creative thinking pays off. For example, costume contests, in bars or online, provide opportunities for people to construct costumes that connect humorous or timely cultural references with craft skills—no-risk competition and community-building all in one, plus I don’t have to be totally “me.”
There is a lot going on in the next three days! A lot of it is spiritual—or at least it could be. What are your thoughts on this Hallowe’en season?