Halloween is a dark celebration with Pagan roots. For some, it represents a mockery of Christian values. When an aversion to All Hallow’s Eve becomes a phobia, it is known as Samhainophobia.
The Origins Of Halloween
The distaste for Halloween generally develops due to religious principles. Halloween has its origins in the folk rituals of the ancient Celts, who held a ceremony called Samhain in order to honor the harvest cycle. Each October 31, the harvest would end, and the Irish would gather to kill livestock. Often, they would throw the animal’s bones onto a roaring bonfire. The people who attended Samhain believed that the dead made their presence known during the festival, and that they must be appeased or else they would cause trouble and hardship for the townspeople. They began to wear masks and other disguises in order to mimic these spirits or please them.
The Evolution Of Halloween
The common practice of placing a carved pumpkin near a window or doorway is also evolved from the ancient rituals of the Celtic people. Initially, other root vegetables such a turnips were used to craft a “head”, which symbolized the spirits who lurked on All Hallow’s Eve. When Ireland converted to Christ, some pagan rituals died, but remnants always remained. To those who fear the holiday, All Hallow’s Eve is a symbol of a darker age, when Goddess worship and Nature worship were commonplace.
Why Does The Phobia Occur?
The modern-day rituals of Halloween may seem harmless and playful to many. To those who appreciate the element of gothic fantasy and make-believe that Halloween brings, the holiday is a welcome break from reality. Indeed, those who adore Halloween (and there are many) take pleasure in watching the little witches, ghouls and ghosts traverse the neighborhood, trick or treating.
Those who suffer from Samhainophobia see no playfulness or joy in Halloween. They are frightened by the costumes, by the loud sounds of firecrackers and excited voices, and by the sense of wildness and otherworldliness that the night seems to conjure forth. For them, Halloween is best avoided, and they will take pains to stay indoors, keeping their homes dark and devoid of decorations, in order to discourage trick-or-treaters.
Some people with this phobia seek religious comfort on Halloween, choosing to pray and show their loyalty to Christian values during the holiday. Although many Christians view Halloween as a secular holiday with little significance, some feel it is a violation of their faith.
Other Reasons To Fear Halloween
In popular culture, books, cinema, and television all play up Samhainophobia, Most notably, the horror film, Halloween, starring Jamie-Lee Curtis, relied on the spooky nature of Oct. 31st to create atmosphere and a sense of foreshadowing. And for those who look forward to this annual night of “trick or treat,” Halloween costumes are all the rave.
In the 1978 film, actor Nick Castle portrayed the masked killer who seeks vengeance on Halloween night.
The popularity of the Halloween film series has contributed to Samhainophobia. Some people now associate Halloween night with the darkest impulses of mankind like the number 666, unlucky number 13, and death. Michael Myers’ ability to withstand multiple bullet wounds and countless attempts to bring him down can evoke terror in the impressionable.
The mindless carnage Michael Myer’s inflicted on hapless victims during his initial rampage occured after 15 years spent in a mental institution. As a boy, Michael murdered his older sister by stabbing her to death. He was then placed in a sanitorium by his parents. After being released as an adult man, his brutal killing spree spawned terror in the formerly peaceful town of Haddonfield, Illinois.
Symptoms of Samhainophobia
Terror is the overarching symptom of Samhainophobia. The halloween costumes and rituals of Halloween will cause feelings of anxiety, nausea, and dizziness. Panic attacks may occur near the holiday, and any reference to Halloween may cause fear of the dark, and subsequently trigger panic attacks. The decorations and advertising that occur during the buildup to Oct. 31st may trigger this phobia in the afflicted.
Overcoming the Fear of Halloween
Avoidance of triggers can ease this phobia, but it can be difficult to seal oneself off from Halloween during the autumn. A good therapist can recommend some methods of releasing the fear and tension associated with this phobia. They may also prescribe anti-depressants if needed.