Halloween has no official, authoritative sponsorship from government or religion. This makes it almost unique among our national celebrations. All the others beside Kwanzaa are either federally or religiously mandated, but not Halloween. It arose in relation to religion, but out of all the people celebrating All Hallows Eve, who among them remembers All Saints Day?

No one owns the core concept of Halloween. Were the bags of candy in the store to disappear, were all the costume-sellers to fold, we would still be able to make costumes and candy, and go around with our masks on, acting out the belief that, just at the turning of the Fall, the veil between our world and the spirits wears thin. We would still see images of ghosts and ghouls plastered everywhere. We would still put on our werefolf costumes and dance with the witches, and go around making merry of the night.

This is the last night of the year when the spookiness of Fall is fun. After that, the days grow even shorter, and everything falls into gloom. This is the last night the shadows are benign. This is the last day before it is well and truly clear that the sun is failing us, and falling into darkness. Past this point, we have to huddle together in the cold and celebrate things like having food and family around, and put out lights in a desperate attempt to push the darkness back. hell, we're doing it with out Haloween decorations already, but we're trying to make it scary all the same, because Halloween marks the point of the year in which our nightmares are still small enough for us to poke fun at. Past this point, they loom large, and hide in the darkness, and we dare not name them. Past this point, there are no witches, there are no goblins, there are no vampires to help us give shape and name to our fears.

This is the last night we embrace the shadows.

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