Halloween in the Plague Year

by Jacob Scouten   

As Autumn continues all too quickly towards its final months in a year that feels as though it might never end, a shining example of the reason the phrase “may you live in interesting times” is seen as a highly foreboding curse. There’s hardly anything that can be said to be remotely typical in 2020, increasingly so as it hurries to what can be called its climax. Massive protests have ran throughout the country for months now, a global pandemic has fundamentally changed how every single American lives their lives – and may well be here for the indefinite future, commonplace as the flu and requiring annual treatments as such – and to top everything off, it’s an election year, one which a Gallup poll has claimed that about 77% of the nation believes will be of even greater consequence than past elections.

Towards the end of October, in an era where virtually every conceivable topic can find a way to brim with controversy and spark discourse, with many tired and simply wishing for it all to finally come to a momentary break, a question that feels almost inconsequential compared to all of this still, surely, pangs in the heads of people nonetheless: what should become of Halloween in a pandemic?

For people of all ages, though children, parents, and other adults can have very different ways of celebrating it from one another, the traditions associated with October 31st are deeply familiar, held in deep regard, but many of those same traditions, are under the circumstances extremely irresponsible. It goes without saying that COVID-19 is still a very real danger, one which even the nation’s president, between densely-packed rallies, has caught, and treatments and vaccinations becoming available to the average person are still far away. Halloween parties, a popular pastime, people in close proximity sharing food and drink and many other things which can’t quite be called socially distanced, must be approached as if walking on eggshells, if not avoided entirely; even wearing proper masks can only do so much, and everyone has seen or known people who simply walk around stores with the things removed, or wear them but leave their noses exposed, or wear a mask but one that doesn’t actually properly cover what it should. In a party environment, where responsibility by nature often goes out the window for the sake of cutting loose and enjoying oneself, is it even worth the risk of attending?

Meanwhile, think of trick-or-treaters, both from the perspectives of one who might send them out, and one who might need to welcome them. Young children very often can’t bring themselves to pay heed to the safety precautions in place, and again, even in situations where most people are doing all they can to socialize safely, it is still possible to spread it. People in large numbers, children and families alike, walking from home to home and accepting sweets, may actually be dangerous behavior, unlike the many times urban legends about razors or illicit materials hidden in candy bowls have made the rounds.

Lastly, aside from all that, many people are tired, with their eyes fixed on the world around them. How many people truly even have the energy to properly celebrate Halloween in the same ways as usual in 2020? Certainly, those who can manage it are enviable to those just feeling too drained by everything happening around them, but even to them, it feels worth words of advice. However you choose to observe Halloween this year, if at all, do so safely, valuing the health of yourself, your friends, and your loved ones. Find things to do which aren’t safety risks, and enjoy them immensely. After all, for all the highly social, in-person events that define the season, there are still a great many that can be enjoyed at home, or in smaller, more responsible numbers: watch scary movies, for example, or find ways to show off costumes without needs to flout social distancing. There is much still to appreciate in life, even if times have forced changes upon us all, and it also creates all the more reason to be excited for a calmer future.