New Yorkers take their Halloween very seriously. I love that. Because it's something I can relate powerfully to.
I love Halloween. I love it for so many reasons. The most obvious of which is, of course, the costumes. As an actor, I can tell you, October 31st is pretty much the High Holiday for those of the thespian persuasion. We are, by nature, a bunch of shameless exhibitionists so there's that, sure -- but it's also a grand opportunity to do a kind of crazy street theatre. A whole evening of character improv, if you will. And you get to show off your costuming skills at the same time. Believe me -- I know some pretty hard-core Halloweenies; you know -- those utter nut-bars who start work on their costume ideas in February...
Even when I was a kid, it was never about the candy (no really!) it was about the chance to dress up like Indiana Jones or Pocahontas or Gene Simmons from KISS (hey - that costume rocked!) and skulk around in the dark, running from house to house, frost-crispy leaves crunching under your feet, following a secret, invisible path lit only by the eerie glow of pumpkin light. (Of course, I also grew up in Edmonton, where that awesome costume was routinely consigned to hidden oblivion beneath a puffy down winter coat -- oh, the tragedy...)
I remember the Halloween when our high school drama department built an elaborate "haunted house" tour that, years later, was still talked about in tones of hushed reverence. I spent three consecutive night perched precariously in an improvised rig as a hanging corpse -- and scared the bejeezus outta scores of friends and family. It was awesome.
As I've gotten older, my fascination with the holiday has deepened, not waned. If you've read WONDROUS STRANGE, you'll know this -- because the story takes place at this particular time of year. In fact, the climax of the story occurs on (and, indeed, because of) Halloween -- or Samhain, as the ancient Celts called it. To them it was a time when the walls between this Earthly realm and the realm of the Otherworld thinned and, in some places, disappeared altogether. The Day of the Open Doors. A transitional time. It was considered by the Celts to be the start of the New Year -- a twilight moment fraught with both peril and possibility. I love that.
I also love that it's a perfectly legitimate excuse for the best party of the year.
Happy Halloween! Merry Samhain! Trick or Treat!