You can still celebrate Halloween in a pandemic.
Marielle Argueza here, taking a trip down memory lane. I was never a fussy child when it came to Halloween. For as long as I could remember, I always wanted to dress up as a witch. In high school, I think one time I dressed up as a cardinal to the Pope of Dope (yes, I listened to EDM for like a second. It was a terrible phase of my teenagehood and I know better now. Don’t @ me). In college, I always dressed up as a mime. It was a cheap costume and—pro tip—a great conversation deterrent for unwanted attention because mimes stick to a vow of silence. Ah, the good old days.
My little sister, on the other hand, took Halloween way more seriously than me. Her first Halloween with the big kids, she had a number of costume changes. We quite literally put her in a box and from there she wanted to be a box of Cheerios cereal (her favorite) one minute and then a box of Kix (her other favorite cereal) the next minute and then I think at some point she settled on dressing up as a box of strawberry Jell-O. What can I say? She was probably fascinated by the sudden onslaught of branded and boxed food we had in our cupboards when we moved to the U.S.
While I was captivated by the idea and stories of witches and general rebellious women, she was always more of a visual learner than me and she leaned into it when she got older. She got into 3-D makeup for a couple of years in high school. Her room smelled like hot gelatin and paint in the days leading up to Halloween, as she would make prosthetic gashes for her face. Once she made her a headband decorated with “dust spirits” from Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. (Yes, the pictures were adorable). During the holidays, when her work gave her the OK to wear Christmas-inspired headwear, she decided to take a chapter from German and Austrian folklore and made a Krampus-inspired headpiece, with spiraling horns and flecked with gold accent, overachiever that she is.
I think we can take a lesson from my crafty sister as we enter an unorthodox Halloween. She dresses up and throws all her creative energy into her costume, but has never once taken me up on an invitation to go to a Halloween party.
Her joy was in the making, the showing and how she felt—not necessarily in all the embedded traditions.
That’s a spirit I think we can lean into this Halloween, as trick-or-treating can pose serious health risks due to Covid-19. Parties and get-togethers, no matter how adapted they are, will lack that essential element of rubbing elbows with strangers. But as I’ve learned from my little sister, there is always another way to celebrate traditions and express the creativity that’s innate in the holiday, whether that means opting for a horror film fest with the family, throwing a Halloween-themed sleepover in your own home, or finding the joy of just getting dressed up as character that’s not necessarily of this world.
Have a happy (and safe) Halloween.
Marielle Argueza, staff writer, email@example.com