Journaling: Unmasking Halloween

Bruce Apar is Editorial Director + Associate Publisher of River Journal North

What are your plans for Halloween 2021?   

Will you mask up? Or mask out?  

Are you ready to scare up some harmless fun?  

Or do you think every day is plenty scary enough in this witches’ cauldron of eye of newt, lizard’s leg, toe of frog, tongue of dog, and boiling tempers that used to be the United States? 


I’m of two minds about Halloween 2021.  

One of those minds thinks that we could use a respite devoted to frivolity and child’s play and pretending to be someone other than ourselves, if only to have a fling with fantasy for one day.  

Reality seems to have given up on whatever sense of humor it once had, so what better escape from this humorless life that has seized our souls – and the soul of our nation — than to honor the dearly departed. Remembering those no longer with us – saints (or hallows) and martyrs among them — is, after all, the origin of All Hallows’ Eve.   


My other mind (the spare one I keep in the trunk in case of emergency) wonders why do we need Halloween at all this year? Even though it has morphed into a vaudeville that contorts its deadly serious genesis, Halloween still is a doomsayer of darkness that we could use a lot less of, not more.  

Mask wearers denounce anti-maskers. Anti-maskers berate mask wearers. 

I’m generally an optimistic fellow, but the acts of mutual misanthropy that are hard to ignore at this fraught moment in American history are throwing serious shade at my sunny disposition.      


People are free to believe whatever suits their fancy – or their fantasy – or their conspiracy. The trouble begins, though, when belief belies knowledge.  

People used to be burned at the stake for their beliefs. Now people are being persecuted for their knowledge.  

Isn’t Halloween redundant when we wake up every day to find ourselves living in the new Dark Ages? 





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About the Author: Bruce Apar