Halloween – The Most Libertarian Holiday of All
If you’ve decided to read this, you’re either really angry with the title or you love Halloween as much as I do. Maybe you’re angry at me for nominating Halloween above Independence Day as the most libertarian holiday. Maybe, like me, you simply adore Halloween and enjoy the thought of adding to your list of reasons why.
We all know Halloween as the over-commercialized No. 1 holiday in America, roughly fashioned after All Saints’ Eve and Samhain, a Gaelic festival marking the start of the winter months, and other pagan rites. So let’s break that down and see if we can’t connect it to our liberty-minded principles.
Freedom of Religion
At its start, Halloween conjoined some of the pagan practices from different cultures brought over to America by the Europeans who created the ritual. With these cultures, various practices like wearing masks; giving gifts of food to spirits; and even burning candles and leaving out treats or saucers of milk or lining your windows with salt were protections against evil forces that can slip through a thinned veil on the auspicious eve.
While pagans and Christians didn’t have a lot in common back then, they did both envision America as a land where they could practice their religious and spiritual beliefs freely. And—even though that often became a deadly pursuit for many, like anyone remotely “odd,” during the great witch-trial period—it was still something many saw as worth the risk. Of course, our First Amendment rights like freedom of religion are super important to libertarians!
Capitalism at its Finest
Now, looking at modern-day Halloween, we get a lot of overspending, over-the-top décor, debaucherous parties and depraved costumes. (If any of you show up in a Jeffrey Dahmer costume to a party, Lord help you!) Who usually takes the blame for all of those things? CAPITALISTS! Yes, capitalism is a reason we ought to praise the great pumpkin.
Through Americans’ love of indulgent behavior, a scary obsession with all forms of entertainment and a globalized, mass-production mindset, Halloween has overtaken Christmas as the holiday for capitalists.
Families spend more and more money decking their halls to pumpkins, strobe lights and ghouls as if Jack Skellington were coming to town. It makes sense, though—the costumes, the décor, the food products and the plethora of Halloween-themed food and alcohol make it so easy to spurge. And the only one to tell us “No!” is our credit limit.
Weirdos Become Normal
Those are the two main reasons I think Halloween is unequivocally Libertarian, but let’s dive into some less concrete reasons why. Those of us who identify as closer to the center than right tend to get a bad rap from both liberals and conservatives. We’re the weirdos of the political world. We don’t conform to either party; we tend to have fluid ideas about things and are much more willing to “Live and let live,” as the saying goes. As we operate in that ethos, we also tend to have colorful hair, clothing, language and even more colorful hobbies (don’t @ me nerd tribes—I’m one of you.)
As such, Halloween tends to be our favorite holiday so we go all out! I’m talking face paint, hand-made costumes, crazy yard builds and spooky party menus that take way too many hours to make for a bunch of your drunk friends to eat in 10 minutes. With the nature of Halloween being crazy and decidedly weird/spooky, the folks not committing to it fully are the ones who stand out. The girls in black tank tops and cat ears will always look weird, hot, but weird compared to the girls going all out with sexy scary alien makeup and a custom sewn tentacle dress. We get to let our freak flags fly and nerd out to our hearts content in punny policy costumes and literal dungeon-master garb. Pointblank: Halloween is for the weirdos.
Halloween in its essence is the freest holiday, and by that I mean, you can choose the degree to which you participate, you can choose the vibe you participate in and you can choose its meaning. When I say choose the degree of participation, I mean you can throw up a few decorations or host a full-on rage-er. You can do a family costume and go trick-or-treating or you can just take your little one to your church’s trunk-or-treat.
Unlike Christmas, it’s not really a holiday where there are forced office parties or where every channel on television is taken over by cheesy movies about a fat man in a red suit. There’s no real Halloween culture of music so radio stations are still safe. It’s a holiday where, if you want to, you can avoid it. The vibe of your participation, if you will, is also up to you. You can be more of a carve-silly-Jack-o’-lantern-type person or an everything-becomes-black-and-has-pentagrams on it for a month or even, like me, where everything has a more vintage Halloween vibe. You can do a haunted hayride that’s maybe a 1-2 on the scary scale or bump all the way up to Markoff’s Haunted Forest (a terrifying DMV staple). You decide! They even have pink pumpkin décor these days for you “Legally Blonde” fans. And finally, you get to choose what Halloween means to you. Some folks out there view Halloween as the devil’s day, others merely a fun holiday for young children and still others the best day of the year. In any case, it’s up to you what it means and how it impacts your life.
What’s more libertarian than the freedom of choice?!