The American Obsession With Halloween Explained In Hocus Pocus Gifs

I am completely obsessed with Halloween, although not so much of a surprise considering that I’m also American. A few years back when I studied abroad in London, I found myself disappointed that in the UK, Halloween wasn’t as big of a deal as it was back home; another holiday that was skipped or washed over in favor of Christmas (and oh, are the Brits obsessed with Christmas). And so for that Halloween weekend, I made my way over to Ireland instead, a country who relishes in Halloween, and whom we can thank for Halloween’s humble beginnings, at a level comparable to my obnoxious homeland. There are a ton of reasons why Americans go nuts for Halloween. In a weird way, October 31 acts as the beginning of the holiday season. Therefore, we must treat it with as much respect as the others. Here are four reasons why Halloween is the best holiday of them all. 

American Obsession with Halloween

Candy, and also consumerism

When you think about Halloween as a child, the first thing that comes to mind is eating copious amounts of free candy. When you think about Halloween as an adult, I sure hope candy is among your top three thoughts, too. And it definitely should be a thought on November 1st when everything is 50% off. As Americans, our country is deeply rooted in the ideologies of capitalism, consumption and consumerism. On Halloween, or for the whole month of October really, that consumerism skyrockets and it becomes totally acceptable to be over the top. We like buying and giving candy because we like eating candy. We like hanging displays and buying decorations because we like looking at them and partaking in that experience with our friends and neighbors. We like being extra when it comes to spending money on a costume because it’s fun to. So, Halloween becomes an acceptable money kill, but shared experience revolving around the things that we’re supposed to shy away from — candy, gluttony, excess — and we love it.

American Obsession with Halloween

The Art of Dressing Up

I’ve met tons of people who spend a whole month planning out their Halloween costumes. I’ve also met people who begin planning their costumes on November 1st for Halloween the following year. That’s dedication! When it comes to costumes, Americans tend to outdo themselves. It’s an investment, a price drain and a stress inducer, yet, completely worth every penny. Dressing up for Halloween was formerly synonymous with children and trick-or-treating. (I still remember every single costume of mine in elementary school). But costumes don’t only cater to kids anymore. As I write this, a week shy of Halloween, I’m scurrying to find a costume. I won’t give up, because dressing up on Halloween, within any scale, is necessary, no matter how old you are. It’s probably the only time of the year where you can walk the streets, sit on a train, go to work, DO WHATEVER you want in silly or scary attire and no one will bat an eye or make any comment…unless it’s to congratulate you on how great you look. Why not take advantage of that?

American Obsession with Halloween

Having An Excuse To Be Festive And Party

Since Halloween isn’t a federal holiday, fixed on a specific day of the week, Halloween can fall on any day. This year, it’s on a Monday, but I guarantee that won’t stop anyone over the age of 18 from celebrating on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and on the Monday itself. Personally, I think Halloween gets better with age. For adults, Halloween is really just a socially acceptable excuse to party on a weeknight and be met with absolutely no repercussions from school or work the next day. It’s an excuse to go to Halloween parties and truly do yourself up, so that you can win bragging rights and the epic prize at the end of the night, which is likely to be endless candy or free alcohol of some expensive sort. It’s an excuse to leave the kids or parents at home and let loose. And most importantly, it’s an opportunity to relive parts of your own childhood and revel in your nostalgia. Wendy said it best. “Don’t be afraid to grow up. It’s only a trap if you forget how to fly.” 

American Obsession with Halloween

Everyone Can Partake and Everything is Fair Game

As I mentioned, you’re never too old to celebrate. What was once known as a children’s holiday is now a universal norm. Even for dogs! That’s what I love most about Halloween. It’s one of the only holidays that isn’t about honoring someone or something. You’re not at home with too many drunk uncles and annoying aunts. It isn’t strict or serious. There aren’t any obligations and you can forget about most social rules. It’s an indulgence that isn’t frowned upon. We can make fun at ourselves and at others. We can take the piss out of things that happen in our country, within politics, elections, history, television shows, while also being able to pay homage to people in our history, our pop culture, in everyday life and even surprisingly, in death, without it being obnoxious or insensitive. This is the day of the year to be different, to be whoever you want outside of your daily life. You can partake in so many different ways, whether by going trick-or-treating (as an adult!), visiting haunted houses or watching Hocus Pocus eight times in a row while simultaneously driving yourself into a candy coma. Everything is fair game and no matter what way you choose to celebrate, you can always expect a fun and memorable time. What’s not to love? 

Images: giphy

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Diana Figueroa

Diana Figueroa is a NYC native and graduate of Fordham University, where she graduated with a degree in Communications, concentrating in journalism and creative writing. She is currently pursuing freelance writing projects and recently launched her own website,, dedicated to her passion for travel and her life in the Big Apple. She is off to pursue her Master's degree in Berlin, Germany at the end of this year. You can find her on route to the next music festival or curing her wanderlust as she plans her next adventure abroad. Feel the fernweh at @dianadoesntknow for photos.

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