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Hell Gate’s HELLISH Halloween How-Tos

Hell Gate’s editors tell you how to correctly observe the spookiest of holidays.

Village Halloween Parade (Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

Halloween is a minefield of social mores that must be navigated carefully— adults are encouraged to dress in costume (but not offensive ones!), children to demand candy (but not laced with fentanyl!), and sitcoms to do a special episode (but never all that funny!). 

Already, Hell Gate has advised you against putting your dog in a costume, and told you where to find 12-foot skeletons (so you can steer clear of them). Now, Hell Gate's editors are here to tell you how to navigate this holiday flawlessly, respectfully, and with your grace intact. 

Do Not Go Outside, Because the Streets Have Become TOO SPOOKY

Creeping cobwebs, towering skeletons, and glowing pumpkin people line our city streets. Was that just the wind rattling through leaves behind you, or a merciless ghoul about to descend from a fire escape? While some would have you believe the true danger lurks in our city's subterranean level, no—the danger is on your neighborhood's streets, in the form of the vestiges of witchcraft and amulets of terror that your very own neighbors have placed in front of their windows and entry halls. Do NOT allow yourself to wander the harrowing cityscape while it is adorned with such deeply disturbing paraphernalia, and if you must wander the streets, simply shield your eyes, and hum loudly to oneself. This is a time of monsters, and while the rest of this odious world has fallen under their spell, you must remain upright and chaste.

Or, if you are going to have some “fun”...

Stop Dicking Around With Your Faux-Transgressive Holidays and Reinstitute Saturnalia

Americans are free, they say—politically, sexually, psychically. Unbound by the dead weight of custom, shuffling off oppressive and hidebound social orders, we are emancipated souls at liberty and at play. But as with any suffocating lie, the tell is everywhere, leaking out the seams. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Halloween, a day adults have, in their desperate, unacknowledged need, forcibly colonized from children, and for what: a single night we blushingly give ourselves permission to dress up as slutty Elmos. A day we rotely promise “trick or treat” but dare not ever follow through on our own threat.

This is incredibly weak. The timid half-steps of Halloween are no suitable vessel for the deep, transgressive urges born of American society. It is long past time to stop piddling around with Halloween and embrace Saturnalia.

Yes: Saturnalia, the ancient Roman week-long holiday devoted to endless partying, the mass indulgence in vice, and the complete inversion of every hierarchy and cultural norm. The satirist Lucian described Saturnalia as a "festive season, when 'tis lawful to be drunken, and slaves have license to revile their lords." During Saturnalia, gambling was encouraged. During Saturnalia, slaves feasted and were waited on by their erstwhile masters. Everyone stopped dressing respectably and started dressing for fun. Anyone could talk shit about anyone without fear of consequence.

Saturnalia might fall short of a full Purge-level suspension of social order, but it's a damn sight more gratifying than dropping $60 at Spirit Halloween for a Ted Lasso costume. It lasts a whole week. Your bosses have to do what you tell them. Billionaires have to work counters and eat infinite shit. Stop being satisfied with the thin gruel of Halloween and seize the promise of Saturnalia.

We Should Celebrate Halloween in May

Heat season begins in New York City on October 1, a recognition from the powers that be that this is the month when it begins to be too cold for human comfort and at times, life. Yet due to outdated tradition, we continue to mark Halloween on October 31, a mistake as it is often too cold, and we are forced to don outerwear. 

May, however, is the ideal month for Halloween. Ask yourself: Why do we persist in covering up children dressed as bees in coats, thereby depriving everyone of the pleasure of seeing a four-year-old dressed as a bee, when in a far more pleasant month temperature-wise, that child could delight in their bee costume without fear of a runny nose? Why are the slutty Elmos of the world forced to hide their light under a bushel? We don't have to live this way.

Halloween Is For Children

Never having to "grow up" is the right of every adult New Yorker. You're not supposed to care all that much about what someone does for a living, how they dress, what they believe, or whether they have cookies for lunch and tequila for dinner. This is the good life, a life without exhausting provincial shame, and our city accommodates all appetites accordingly.

But not growing up is different from acting like a child. And yet every year, countless grown adults pretend like they have to plan Halloween parties and pick a costume (or multiple costumes!) to celebrate a holiday that is supposed to liberate children.

Kids are expected to do as they're told, to sit at a desk for over a decade, to live within carefully prescribed rules, while the adults pretend that these rules mean something and then go on staying up way too late watching TV anyway. Every day is Halloween if you're an adult! I'm currently writing this blog while eating a sack of licorice and wearing a T-shirt with a bloodstain of unknown origin on it. (Probably fish blood?) This isn't Halloween, this is Friday afternoon.

The one day of the year kids are allowed to be naughty, the adults have to crowd them out and get all drunk and horny and steal their valor. 

This Halloween, have a glass of water, tuck in your shirt, buy a big rack of full-sized candy bars, and help some kids live out their dreams—their precious, simple, wonderful dreams. You'll have the rest of your life to act like a fucking idiot.

Follow these simple rules to treat yourself to a blessed and proper Halloween, or you'll find yourself tricked into looking like someone infinitely less cool than Hell Gate's editors. Reader, beware, because then you'll truly be in for a scare! Mwahahahaha. 

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