October 24, 2023

Why We are Enchanted by Halloween.

Early fall has always been my favorite time of year.

The morning air is crisp. The sunrise sets the red, orange, and yellow leaves of oak trees aglow. It’s as if the trees know Halloween is coming and they’ve put on costumes in anticipation.

The colorful landscape in Massachusetts sets the mood for All Hallows Eve. Of course, the most iconic place to celebrate is Salem, Massachusetts, the Halloween Capital of the world. This village made famous by the 1692 Salem Witch Trials welcomes the spirit of Halloween year round. Beyond the museums, graveyards, and historic home tours, the cobblestones paving Essex Street are packed with people dressed in costume no matter what time or day of the year.

“I put a spell on you and now you’re mine.” ~ Winifred Sanderson

You don’t need to live in New England to fall under Halloween’s spell. If the idea of watching a horror movie makes you want to hide under the covers, fear not. Scares are not what the spirit of Halloween is all about.

We’re enchanted with Halloween because it invites us to morph into someone else for a day. Who you become is entirely up to you. Dreaming of slipping into a pink gingham dress, pastel heels, and matching hair bow for a complete Barbie makeover? Have at it! Just know that by zipping up that dress you may feel more poised and empowered.

Psychologists have studied how getting into character can impact your behavior. Enclothed cognition, or the way clothing influences psychological processes, is a term coined by researchers Hajo Adam and Adam Galinsky at Northwestern University. According to Adam and Galinsky, changing the way you typically dress can affect your mood and behavior.

Their study published in The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Adam and Galinsky found that our fascination with wearing a costume is based on two factors. The first is the symbolic meaning of the clothing selected. The second is the physical experience of wearing the outfit.

It’s a lot like Clark Kent changing into Superman. During his transformation into a superhero an average joe is suddenly capable of soaring through the air and saving those in distress. How can a person who has chosen to dress up as Superman donning that legendary red “S” on their chest and cape not feel confident?

The ability to escape for a night also serves as a mini vacation from the ordinary and a chance to let our creative side out to play. In a Psychology Today article, Dr. Lisa Firestone explained that taking a break from our regimen may make us feel more connected to ourselves. Switching up our routine may help us identify aspects of our lives that may be out of balance. Perhaps, our choice in costume is our subconscious whispering what aspects of ourselves we wish to see more of on a daily basis?

“Halloween is not only about putting on a costume, but it’s about finding the imagination and costume within ourselves.” ~ Elvis Duran

Embracing the opportunity to transform ourselves for a night is one of the best ways to awaken the spirit of Halloween within us. You don’t need to perform a magic spell, or call upon spirits. The power to be who we want to be lies inside us, not just on Halloween, but every day of the year.

~

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