March 2020 seems like such a long, long time ago. In the earliest days of the Coronavirus pandemic on US shores, nobody knew what the future would hold for us, but there was a general belief that the impact wouldn’t last more than a few months. I know I believed that. As the United States proved itself uniquely ill-equipped to deal with this situation, we’re now well into July and only just now seeing its true peak. With Independence Day behind us the conversation has naturally turned to Halloween.
Will we still be on partial lockdown by Halloween? Will we be able to have parties? What about trick or treating? Will Halloween itself be cancelled?
Frankly, I’m already tired of this discussion, and don’t like having it. This is not a good time to be on r/halloween – Reddit’s Halloween forum, where this topic is now coming up several times a week. In the interest of letting my position be unambiguous, let this post be my official stance on the matter.
You cannot cancel Halloween.
If this site serves any purpose whatsoever, it’s to advocate for the celebration of Halloween not as a single night, or even a handful of traditions, but as a state of mind. I’m not one of those “Halloween is every day” people, but I do view Halloween as a season that takes place from September 1st to October 31st. During that season, to the Halloween lover, the celebration is non-stop and largely internal. Listening to Halloween music, watching horror movies, smelling and tasting pumpkin spice, thinking about costumes… these things are all in service of getting one’s mind in the right place to soak up the magic of Halloween. More importantly, these things can all be done at home, solo.
Not to minimize the importance of trick or treating and parties, but those things are not all there is to Halloween. The loss of those things would be tragic, but they wouldn’t erase Halloween. That being said, I don’t think trick or treating will be canceled this year. October 31st may seem relatively near, but it’s three and a half months from now. Looking at the course of this pandemic so far, that’s a long time. Unless we really shit the bed even worse than we have thus far (possible, I’ll grant), things should have improved considerably by then. Nothing will be “back to normal”, but certain activities will be considered safer than they are today.
Trick or treating can easily be made safer than dining at a restaurant, which is still possible in most places right now. The only unique danger it presents is strangers gathering at front doors, which one can negate at both ends: Parents, instruct your kids to wait their turn in the driveway or sidewalk, and homeowners, enforce the same thing. The easiest thing to do is take the front door out of the equation and hand out candy in the most wide open place. Need I point out the obvious, that most people will be wearing masks?
The two things I potentially see not being possible are large parties and haunted houses. Painful losses, to be sure. My Halloween party has been the centerpiece of my whole celebration for the past 12 years. (Proper parties may be discouraged, but smaller gatherings with trusted friends are still possible, as are virtual costume parties.) And going to a haunted house (or making one) has been somewhere in the top 5 of “most important Halloween rituals” for the same period of time.
But October 31st will come, all the same. Correction: The months of September and October will come all the same. I’ll be celebrating, much as I always have. You’ll still see the frequent posts right here, and on Instagram. I’m still constructing a playlist of Halloween music with accompanying cover art. I still have dozens of horror movies to watch. I’ll still carve a pumpkin. I’ll still wear a costume. The day itself may look a little different, but that’s the beauty of Halloween-as-season. There’s so much more than a day to celebrate.