Don’t Let the Unity and Energy of Halloween End Just Yet

By Denis Perez-Bravo

Halloween is not a holiday. Some would call it a wicked day, but I call it a child’s day of play.

Adults have to keep their innocence from their childhood to be truly happy and that includes continuing to pretend and imagine. Halloween is exactly that.

Once a year, adults and youth pretend to be their favorite characters or they make up a role they will play. Men put on makeup and a dress, women put on mustaches and beards, kids put on tool belts and big boots, and grandpas put on bikini costumes. How much fun is that? A lot.

The energy of Halloween means much more than we give it credit for.

Although not everyone dresses up, people are more accepting to playing and using their imagination, an energy our society needs. As a nation, we tell ourselves we are free, yet we oppress our creativity and imagination through social structures that tell us to always act professionally or be street tough.

As time goes by and I get older, I begin to appreciate Halloween more. I didn’t before.

I was taught through the Independent Baptist Christian doctrine that Halloween was the day the devil took over the world. My siblings and I were not allowed to go to school on Halloween. In second grade, there was a Halloween parade at my school, Hoover Elementary in Oakland. I did not go. I was never allowed to go trick or treating. When I was 8, I was really bothered that I was not getting bags of candy. And when I would go back to school all my friends would tell me about how much candy they got, which upset me.

After school when I would stay at my neighbors’ house before my father picked me up, my neighbor showed my brother and I the candy he got. It was a lot. I was even more furious.

The next year, I demanded a costume and candy, but I still did not attend school. My dad went to Walmart, bought a costume and bags of candy, and gave it to me. It was what I wanted, but not how I wanted it. I mean, yeah, I was happy, but looking back at it, it still wasn’t Halloween.

I have never gone trick-or-treating. I have always just received the results.

I started to enjoy Halloween more when I became a photographer. When I walked the streets of the East Bay during the last two Halloweens, I enjoyed all the humorous outfits. There were smiles across groups of young adults, youth, older people, and all ages as they walked to their destinations. There was always a good ambience and there was always unity in strangers.

As I photographed the streets months after Halloween, I do not see the same energy consistently. The good energy dies, the smiles, the unity of strangers and all the good that comes with Halloween, was not there.

The innocence of the children, the mentality of a young one and the fun that we all had as a kid vanishes for a lot of us once Halloween ends.

I appreciate Halloween for what it has become in America: a day of play.

Halloween, for me, will always be a day of unification in a month of good times that is best enjoyed secularly and as a child, no matter my age.

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