For the death of me I never did understand the whole concept of the 12 days of Xmas while growing up -- especially when it came to turtle doves, maids-a-milkin', French hens, and the rest of the lot! At least the 8 days of Hanukkah were explained to me...miracle oil that lasted 8 days (they really are obsessed with oil in the Middle East), but I thought they were talking about oil for their salad dressing! Was Xmas trying to "one-up" Hanukkah with 4 extra days? Moreover, as a young Gothling at heart, I always pondered why my favorite holiday, Halloween, only deserved one day...and a day that didn't get me out of school!!!
So, over the years, as an advocate of Goth culture and the special season we all love and call our own, I would like to introduce to you, and at the same time, solidify the tradition of the 13 days of Halloween! *cue dramatic music here*
The 13 days of Halloween span from October 21st, also known henceforth as the "Day of Shadows," all the way past the actual day of Halloween, and ends atypically on the 2nd day in November, the "Day of the Dead." Within these 13 spooktacular (I really, really hate that pun!) days, I'd like to encourage every and all Goths, young and old, throughout the world, to partake in certain traditions and customs that are either borrowed, new, or have withstood the test of time!
O.k., first let us identify and name for certain every significant day within the 13 days of Halloween:
- 1st day - October 21st: Day of Shadows
- Other nights: filler (make up your own!)
- 10th day - October 30th: Devil's Night
- 11th day - October 31st: Halloween (duh!)
- 12th day - November 1st: All Souls' Day
- 13th day - November 2nd: Day of the Dead.
So, with that determined let's explore some new and established traditions you can observe and partake in:
- Decorations: I would encourage that decorating your dwellings for Halloween should happen as a personal or family event during the first few days of the 13 days. However, knowing you Gothlings the way I do, I'm sure that you have either eagerly decorated by the 1st of October or, like me, have your batcave Halloweenified all year round!
- Gift-giving: Why should giving gifts to friends and loved ones be confined to Xmas, birthdays, and anniversaries? Get into the habit of giving small, yet meaningful Halloween themed gifts or treats to special friends and lovers. Also, if you are the lone Goth in a family that may or may not understand your dark lifestyle, be extra sure to get them a small and cute trinket to wish them a happy Halloween. This will demonstrate to them that this holiday is important to you and that you want to have them involved within your world, if only goes for a little while! The same goes for giving...
- Halloween greeting cards: Much like giving gifts, get into the habit of sending fun and clever Halloween cards to friends and loved ones. Can't find a card to suit your dark taste, or they are just plain silly? Then create your own! On the same note, while sending ecards online might seem neat-o-rific (nerd terminology) and convenient, there is nothing like receiving a physical card though the mail. I actually have a collection of cards that friends have sent me over the years on permanent display perched upon my kitchen's shutter styled doors! Also, stock up on cards a few days after the big event...you'll be prepared for next year and you'll save a bundle of cash from the sales!
- Morbid pranks: Halloween is the perfect time to let loose your devilish prankster side onto the world. Quite simply: scare the candy corn out of people...just be sure to make it fun, and above all keep it safe! Also, if you are able to dole out candy to trick-or-treaters on Halloween night, take the opportunity to come up with very frightful ways to greet them at the door -- oh the stories I could tell! I once made a cocky teenager jump back in horror, fall to the ground and run away screaming while his friends all laughed at him!
- Costumes and anti-costumes: While most mainstream drones ponder endlessly what "they will be for Halloween," Goths have many options before them. On the one hand, you could be like most people and have one general costume, but with so many parties and events to attend to during the 13 days of Halloween, this soon becomes highly repetitive and eventually boring. Try to have at least 2 alternative costumes that you can rotate on any given night to change it up a little. Also, there is what I call the "anti-costume." This is when a Goth, who dresses like it is Halloween all year round, will dress up like a common Day-Crawler character for the occasion. Think: cheerleader, nerd, an athlete of any sport, or the most horrific costume of them all...a corporate businessman/woman or banker! *EEEEEEEKKKKKK!!!* The third option we Goths have for Halloween dress-up is to go as we normally would on any given day and bask in the comfort of not being labeled a "freak!" if for only a few days!
- No Work: Even though Halloween isn't recognized as a national or religious holiday, and the banks are open, and you will get mail, it doesn't mean you can’t schedule, far in advance, one or two days off to fall on October 31st and/or November 1st (to cure that hangover). If you get much resistance from your boss, just tell him/her that for you it’s a religion holiday you need to observe…hey, it works for Jewish people!
- The Day of the Dead Feast: On the last day of the 13 days of Halloween, on November 2nd, amass a selected group of like-minded friends and organize a dinner party at your (or your friend's/family's) dwelling, or simply go out to a favorite restaurant to enjoy an indulgent meal while showing praise and remembrance to those who no longer walk the Earth. Be sure to make a toast to the dead and to give thanks to the life you are living. Think of it like a Gothy version of Thanksgiving!
- Horror Movie Marathon: Over the course of the 13 days of Halloween make your eyes bleed by spending your free time watching cult classic horror movies at home or in movie theaters. In larger towns art-house cinemas usually have an array of campy fun horror movies they play around this time of year at a very reasonable price. And checking out a Rocky Horror Picture Show screening wouldn't be a bad idea either!
- Haunted Houses: Elaborate walk-through haunted houses are becoming more and more popular and prevalent as well as being dynamic interactive productions in their own right. Try to visit one or all in your area, and be prepared to laugh the fears away...or crap in your pants...whichever happens first! For us Goths haunted houses are pure adrenaline filled fun! (Warning!!! Ticket prices to some of the more elaborate haunted house can really soar into high digits. If you are short on funds you should probably spend the cash on more long-lasting and meaningful Halloween purposes!)
- Pumpkin Carving: Nothing beats stabbing and carving up a huge gourd (although Celts originally used turnips) into something fun and expressive!!! Hell...it's better than dunking hard boiled eggs into food coloring with a wire spoon! For some really amazing carved pumpkin ideas be sure to visit www.extremepumpkins.com. You will laugh your ass off at some of the examples they have listed there!!!
- Black Wreath: Let your neighbors know that you are Goth and that you are proud! Purchase or make your own dark and spooky wreath to hang over your front door and show your holiday spirit! Admittedly, this does fall under the "Decorations" category mentioned at the top of this list, and while I hate to admit it, for amazing decoration ideas and instruction go and visit Martha Stewart's (*facepalm of shame*) Halloween section at www.marthastewart.com. Goth help us all...
- Pilgrimage to Whitby, U.K.: While Muslims make the lifelong effort to take a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lives, so should Goths embark on a similar journey to the Bi-annual Whitby festival, especially for the Halloween edition. For those who don't know, Whitby is the chilly seaside town in which Bram Stoker's Dracula story was mainly based. The weekend long festival is simply a huge gathering of beautifully dark and crative Goths from around the globe! The incredible Gothic atmosphere is perfect, and the scenery is absolutely breathtaking! Go, at least once, even if it is your last trip on Earth! For more and all information, visit the Whitby Goth Weekend's new website at: www.whitbygothweekend.co.uk.
- Graveyard Stroll: There is almost nothing as soothing to a Goth than to take a quiet stroll through cemetery during the crisp and haunting 13 days of Halloween! Either by yourself, with friends, or with a loved one, take the time to meander through the fields of tombstones while enjoying the comforting crunching sound of dead leaves under your footsteps. It is also a great moment to appreciate the life you have instead of celebrating Halloween six feet under!
- Halloween Countdown: On Devil's night (October 30th), if you are out at an event, be sure to countdown and ring in Halloween night at precisely midnight, much like on New Year's Eve. Raise a glass of your favorite poison and toast with your friends this very special Gothic day!
TO ALL MY DEAR GOTHLINGS: HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!