Celebrating Halloween When You’re More “Spooky” Than “Scary”

Halloween is hands down my favorite holiday. Candy, costumes, magic, and ever flowing pumpkin lagers–what’s not to like? Although I am that annoying person in your Instagram feed who proclaims “HaLlOwEeN iS mY cHrIsTmAs” and most people don’t question my devotion to the pumpkin gods, there is a slight chink in my orange and black armor: I hate basically all things horror.

Now this begs the question: what do I consider horror? Because I love spooky things like trying to get ghosts to haunt me, casting spells, vaguely friendly looking skeletons, and witches that turn out to not be wicked (although I do love a good wicked witch…as long as they aren’t mad at me). But once zombies, scary movies, or gore enter the picture, I’m running in the opposite direction. Excessive gore makes my knees weak, scary movies get me so jumpy that they make me fearful of loud nighttime toilet flushes for weeks (I have IT to blame for that one…I’m now forever convinced there’s a psychotic clown hiding in my plumbing). And although I don’t find zombies *particularly* scary, they really gross me out. Like so much so that when I worked at a one night haunted house, a haunted house I was convinced to participate in due to the promise of *super* elaborate zombie makeup, I had a hard time looking at myself in the mirror without feeling a bit queasy.

“But Tori,” you, my hypothetical reader I’ve made up in my head, may ask, “Halloween is the horror holiday. How can you love it while hating one of its most prominent characteristics?” Plenty of ways, THAT’S HOW.

1. Spooky/Spoopy (ie diet/caffeine-free spooky) Halloween Movies


It’s easy to think that the only Halloween movies are those that involve the murder of teenagers, but I’m here to tell you that’s not the case. Yes, they’re mostly Disney films from the 90’s that are aimed towards children, but I don’t care. It’s not properly Halloween until I solo-watch The Nightmare Before Christmas and aggressively sing-along to “This is Halloween”. Fun Fact: When I was a child I tried to make my own Halloween town using model clay. After forcing my mother to take me to the drugstore and buy me all the shades of clay I would need, I promptly abandoned the project upon realizing that I was nine and could barely make a pumpkin out of clay, let alone a whole town. I also got bored (sorry, Mom).

2. Costumes


I love a good costume. Give me a glue gun, felt, craft paper, glitter, and an afternoon–I will make my dreams become reality. There are few things that make me happier than a good costume, especially if it’s one I’ve been able to clobber together myself. Above are photos of some of my favorite costumes from recent years (one of which wasn’t for Halloween…): Tina Belcher ft. my boyfriend who I forced to be Jimmy Jr., Dobby and Winky ft. One of my best friends/partners in costume crime who I would never have to force to do a couples costume, Unicorn, Zombie (not done by me, but still pretty sweet), and PB the Rat (may he rest in peace as he rat battles with his brother in rat heaven). Best thing about Halloween as an adult? 3 costumes for 3 days of Halloween weekend.

3. Getting Witchy

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It isn’t much of a secret that I love the occult. I’m a daily practitioner of Tarot, I have an alter, and I’ve done my fair share of spell casting mainly through the use of carved spell candles and monthly bath rituals. Although I don’t subscribe to a specific denomination of witchcraft, I would consider myself a witch. I believe in energy, nature, and the effect that the phase of the moon and astrology have on our lives, and I try to use these forces to help promote positive change in my life. From a Neopagan perspective, Halloween is used as a marker to celebrate the new year. One of my favorite things to do on Halloween night is to give myself a circle of the year spread to help prepare myself for the year ahead, as well as a Solar Blast carved candle to help give me a jump start of positive energy for the upcoming year. The Halloween season always feels extra potent with magikal energy, and I think this is because people are more open to the occult during this time of year. So, if you’re interested in doing your own witchcraft, now’s the time! Collect a group of similarly interested people, make your own coven for the night, drink some mulled wine, and cast some spells. Even if you don’t believe in the occult, it’s a fun and unique reason to get some people together for a memorable night.

4. Halloween Holds My Best Memories 


In my 26 years on this planet I have only had one bad Halloween (I was 13…I feel like that should be enough explanation). I can name every costume I’ve worn, every town I’ve trick-or-treated, and every party I got *too* filled with the Halloween spirit. The reason for this is that I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by some really amazing people. I consider Halloween the true friends holiday–my own version of “Friendsgiving”. It’s the only holiday that you can spend with your friends (and your generation of family members that you actually like) without the guilt that comes from not going home for a holiday dinner. Last year’s Halloween was one of my best–I got to dress up in three separate costumes, went to a great party where all my friends were gathered in one spot, and I spent the weekend in Sleepy Hollow with my siblings and their children. There are few things more heartwarming for me than drinking large amounts of pumpkin lagers with my siblings while witnessing the spark of Halloween love develop in my nephew’s eyes.

I guess what I’ve been trying to say is this: Halloween isn’t a scary holiday for me. It’s a time for nostalgia, creativity, spirituality, and community. This isn’t to say I disapprove of those who like to celebrate the terrifying, in fact I fully endorse any way you celebrate during this time of year, as long as it doesn’t harm anyone. But for me personally, Halloween is my happy place. A happy place filled with spoopy skeletons, Disney witches, and friendly, familiar, possibly painted, faces.

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