Our demons are coming out. The campaign signs spotting the streets of our neighborhoods are strewn with tombstones and mock-murder scenes and skeletons that this year feel a little more personal, after having death hanging like a cloud this year.
We have all spent months breaking through a presidential election campaign and a global pandemic, and this Saturday feels like an emotional climactic night, a morbid moment that marks a year of death and excitement. Halloween, a change of summer time and a full moon, all on a unique night.
While trick-or-treat and Halloween parties are limited this year due to physical distance and concern about spreading coronavirus, scholars say that recognizing, if not fully celebrating, a night devoted to dementia is a useful escape valve. It̵
It can be a good thing to allow a little intentional chaos in our spirit. As the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote: “One must have chaos in oneself to give birth to a dancing star.”
Halloween night is also a full moon
The narrative tension is tight, and that all this would converge the night to the full moon only makes this eerie.
“It’s a full moment for so many reasons. Even for those who do not believe in the supernatural, we act as if we do. The metaphysical energy of this moment is enormous,” said Regina Hansen, a Boston senior rhetorician. University and co-author of “Supernatural, Humanity, and the Soul: On the Highway to Hell and Back.”
Halloween is an opportunity to be essentially a stranger in a foreign land. For one night you can stay in a new self. It can mean the desire to fulfill a child’s dream of being an astronaut. You can live in a character that is braver, stronger, or more criminal than you are.
“It’s all elevated, it’s all elevated. There’s a sense of freedom that’s almost magical,” she said. “Kids rule the night. They go up to strangers’ houses and ask, no, demand candy.”
Or it could be a way of expressing a message of political satire by going out as an undead version of a political figure that you might want to banish.
It can mean wearing a bloody suit and tie and parting your hair like a zombie politician (it’s done). Taboo thoughts are sanctioned, if not just for one night.
This Halloween full moon is also a blue moon. While the moon does not actually look blue, a blue moon refers to the other of two full moons that occur in the same month, occurring once every 2.5 to three years or “once in a blue moon.”
A full moon appears on Halloween about every 19 years, so of course thank it up to 2020 for yet another rare achievement. Be aware when the full moon rises on Saturday as it does not happen again on Halloween in many time zones until 2039, 2058, 2077 and 2096.
Although full moons have long been tied to our fascination with madness and werewolves – the word “insane” comes from “lunar” – there is no strong scientific evidence that more crime occurs when the pale bullet hangs fully over our heads.
Data stacks, but summer time can unleash a little chaos. We have our lives calibrated and measured to the letter, and then we change our watches to mess with order.
There are ways to move on and prevent yourself from making mistakes due to a shift in circadian rhythm.
“You already know it’s coming,” said AASM President Dr. Kannan Ramar, a sleep medicine specialist at the Mayo Clinic, in a previous CNN interview. “A few days to a week before this, it will be helpful to change your schedule slowly to that time frame.”
A physically distant Halloween
Although Halloween is a night to shake off your inhibitions, it is still important to find ways to do it safely during the pandemic.
“Really try not to get together indoors with people who are not in your household. Instead, focus on getting people outdoors,” said CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana S. Wen, an emergency physician and visiting professor at the George Washington University Milken Institute. School of Public Health. “There are many creative ways to celebrate Halloween, and it’s much, much safer.”
Whether you have big plans for this weekend or not, there is value in taking a moment to acknowledge this moment and reflect on our deep universal urge to confront our fear of death and then live on in spite of it.
A lonely celebration of the macabre during a pandemic can mean curling up with a Stephen King novel or a favorite horror movie, explained Hansen, the literature researcher at Boston University.
Or it could be one of her Halloween favorites, Ray Bradbury’s novel “The Halloween Tree,” which tells the story of trick-or-treat kids learning about the origins of the holiday. The story grows about children who “just let the great excitement of being alive and out on this night pull their lungs and shape their throats in a shout … and a shout … and a yeeeellll!”
Just before a presidential election, it could be hocus-pocus to draw a line between Halloween, a full moon and a time change that all happen at the same time. But then again, maybe there’s something there.
“The fact that we look for serendipity says a lot about us as human beings,” Hansen said. “It may mean that there is a purpose to our suffering or at least a structure.”