On Halloween

I’ve long thought of Halloween, and its various traditions, as pretty daft. It seems mostly like a colossal nationwide waste of resources, engineered by the marketing departments of a few large corporations. My tune is changing, though.

On Halloween, we teach our children that their neighbors will help them. Specifically, we teach them that

  • if you use a bit of common sense, you can safely approach anyone and ask them for something
  • if you follow the customary etiquette and ask politely, people will try to satisfy your request
  • this is true even if your request is not something especially useful or worthwhile
  • this is true even if neither of you can identify the other

Not only do we teach these things, but we actually demonstrate them. I can hardly think of another festival that so directly instills a culture of communal trust and mutual assistance.

I don’t mean to claim that this lesson is deliberate, or that it’s particularly well absorbed, but it’s enough to make me rethink the holiday. At least for kids. I haven’t yet figured out the psychosocial benefit derived from dressing up as Sexy Nemo.

One Reply to “On Halloween”

  1. So one of the people I am trying to live with in DC was an MIT ’07, and she said the Chorallaries were awesome. So, good job being awesome according to Robin the MIT ’07.

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