Here’s Why Halloween Starts In September

Because f*ck you, that’s why.

Photo by Colton Sturgeon on Unsplash

Of all years, I shouldn’t have to explain this in 2020. My god, I’m shocked any time someone enters a Zoom without a fully decorated Christmas tree, Menorah, and Easter basket in the background. If ever there was a time to indulge in fantasy about the house, it’s during a year when that’s literally all the fuck we’ve got. But I know there are the sensitive among us who equate the reemergence of pumpkin spice and candy corn with the end of their silly summer funtimes, so I’ll make my case.

Halloween starts in September. Certainly in my home but if Instagram memes are sort of guidebook, this happens elsewhere too. If you haven’t seen that dancing pumpkin head man yet just relax, and let it happen. Some of us actually go looking for him, as a treat. Individuals for whom Halloween is Lord can supernaturally hear the first leaf fall in a distant forrest, calling us to attention like a wolf’s bellowing howl. We rise on September 1st, renewed, ready to stop fucking around with all this summer nonsense.

We suffered for this. We sat through your 95-degree days and sweated through every stitch of clothing we owned on the promise of orange and black days to come. We tolerated picnics, pretending to enjoy soggy sandwiches and potato chips with blades of grass in the bag in order to make it through to darker, and therefore brighter, days. This is why we put up with the beach. That roasting hellscape searing salt into our retinas and depositing sand in places only known to medical professionals. Damn your beach! Give me a pumpkin patch and a bag of fake spider webbing any day of the week.

First, you can blame Target, that’s allowed. Retail most likely had something to do with the initial early-ing of holidays. Who among us doesn’t remember walking into Wal-Mart as a child in August and being utterly perplexed but not exactly upset by the presence of giant inflatable Santa. Look, urgency sells, and I respect the hustle. Mostly because it means I can get my hands on candles that smell like a fireplace as early as late July. At this point though it’s just enabling my affinity for pumpkin-laced drama and I’m here for it. Get those fucking backpacks and glue sticks out of here, Susan, I need the animated caldron prop, stat.

Or maybe it’s simply the need for a change. Summer is a long, cruel mistress, and maybe we’re sick of having to take a shower any time we come back from going anywhere, ever. Maybe we want to sit outdoors again without dehydrating. Could it be the electric bills? Maybe we want to stop paying through the nose to keep our homes at a faint-free temp. Maybe we don’t want to eat any more goddamned sweet corn and tomatoes! A little variety and a toffee apple or two wouldn’t kill anyone, now would it?

I think the real reason Halloween starts in September is that it’s a form of play. It’s an adult blanket fort. A chance to once again let loose in the manner of a sugared up individual whose age is still single-digit. The human mind is shepherded out of imaginative play far too early, if you ask me, and indeed it is my opinion we’d all be well advised to maintain make-believe as a lifelong practice. If you’re not a part of the Comic-Con set, there are few instances when you’re allowed to acceptably play pretend, and I find that so sad. So sad in fact that I decorate my home like a haunted house over Labor Day weekend.

There he is.

Fantasy is not childish, it is necessity. There is self-care in living in dreams. I myself love to redecorate my living room in the manner of a Victorian taxidermist’s workshop but I’d support you fully if you wanted to live inside a Marvel Comics-inspired palace, instead. Loving something in our heads isn’t always enough, sometimes we need to touch it, see it, and eat it out of a colorful wrapper, too. We need immersion, not just the idea of a thing, to feel satiated. It’s not that we don’t always want to do this, it’s just that Halloween season is the one time where it’s societally okay. The Tim Burton aesthetic would be my permanent decor scheme but for the fact that I enjoy having friends.

Being a grown up is a fucking stick in the eye, do you hear me? I could kick my younger self for rushing the process of maturation, honestly what a moron. Apart from Sauvignon Blanc and getting a bigger bed I really don’t see what all the fuss is about. If I choose to see September, by and large a useless month, as a chance to go back in time a bit ahead of schedule, by god you will get out of my way.

Celebrating Halloween is telling yourself a spooky story all day, every day. It’s reliving the excitement and delight of trick or treating, customized to your own personal version of macabre. It’s also festive, the marking of a celebration, even if we don’t really know what we’re celebrating anymore apart from costumes and candy. Human beings need to let loose, and some of us prefer to do so while wearing fake vampire teeth. We do not acknowledge your square scheduling preferences, k?

Roll your eyes and smother yourself in sunblock, if you must. I understand that there are actually human beings in this world who won’t even acknowledge Halloween until like…Halloween. And then there’s us. The Halloween people. We ghouls, we goblins, we zombies from hallowed ground. Those of us with Christmas lights in non-Christmas colors and actual skeletons in our closets. We keep large rubbermaid containers full of plastic spiders and Spotify playlists with the soundtrack from Clue. We are one, and we are hiding mini Butterfinger candies in our nightstand.

It doesn’t matter if you think it’s weird. Real Halloween people can’t be bothered by the side-eye of the living. We care only for the rattling of chains and the creaking of coffin lids inside our own hearts. When you’ve freed yourself to live fully in the fantasy that suits you best, you want the dream to begin as soon as possible. And we, rest assured, are free.

Happy September, witches.


Shani Sinister Silver is a humor essayist and podcaster based in Brooklyn who writes on Medium, a lot.

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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