A Guide To The Hallodays
The best month of the year is once again upon us, bringing joy and fear in equal measure, as the Halloday season arrives. But I noticed something a little strange, a couple of days ago, when I was wishing my social media followers a Happy Boo Year– Some of them weren’t celebrating. Heck, some of them didn’t seem to know it was Boo Year’s Eve at all!
Now, I’ve heard of regional variances in the ways certain Hallodays are celebrated, and of course we all know that different religious denominations celebrate October 25th differently (and just because I grew up with Cringemas doesn’t mean that Cryptmas is any less frightening or merry). But to not even be aware of the day at all? Mainstream calendar manufacturers have all but stopped mentioning the Hallodays, glossing over them in favor of more profitable, greeting-card-friendly dates. In these trying times, however, it’s more important than ever before to focus on the sense of togetherness, community, and sheer terror of the Halloday spirit. So without further ado, here’s our Guide To The Hallodays.
Sep. 30th: BOO YEAR’S EVE :
As with most days of celebration, you’ll find there are varying schools of thought on how this one should be spent. Unlike some other Hallodays, this one doesn’t commemorate a cult sacrifice or the conjuring of an ancient horror, so there’s not a lot of ritualistic tradition associated, even if you look back at the early days of it. No, Boo Year’s Eve has always been simply a way prepare yourself for the horrors ahead. As the previous arbitrary measurement of time draws to a close, we latch onto the meaninglessly quantified human construct of years as a sort of psychological reset button.
Some people close out Boo Year’s Eve with a night of debauchery. Some parties claim that digging up the corpses of deceased acquaintances helps them confront the horrors of aging, mortality, and the passage of time, while mentally preparing themselves for the year ahead. Personally, I think it’s just an excuse to get drunk in a cemetery. As though an extra reason is required! Some people opt for a quiet night at home with a Ouija board, invoking spirits, telling them about all the things they missed out on, by dying in the past. But one thing that just about everybody does is make their New Fear Resolutions.
New Fear Resolutions range as wildly as the people making them, of course. For some, making their resolutions just means changing small habits to make themselves more frightening to others. “Next time, I’m not going to wash the blood off,” or “When I smile, I should show all of my teeth,” for example. For others, it can be a time of deep self-reflection, leading to some massive life changes in what they, themselves, are afraid of. We’ve all had that friend who developed a crippling phobia seemingly out of nowhere, as the result of a New Fear Resolution. Whether or not they actually stick with it is another topic!
Oct. 4th: 1/4TH OF SOME GUY :
It may be a little divisive to include this one, as it’s a national Halloday, and thus not necessarily celebrated around the world. We may get flak for mentioning this and not Batsteal Day, or Hari Murderka, but frankly, I chose to write about 1/4th Of Some Guy not because of patriotism, but because it’s the one that I feel has the most confusion around how best to celebrate.
We all learned the story in school. The European explorer who accidentally unleashed a mummy’s curse. How, after believing the mummy to be dead once more (not realizing that the mummy had to be completely incinerated, to lift the curse), he was under a false sense of security when what was left of the mummy attacked and ravaged the camp site. It’s said that all that remained of the mummy at this point was a head, one arm, and part of the torso. It’s because of this that when the explorer’s wise-cracking American sidekick sprung into action, he was said to have remarked “I didn’t come halfway around the world to get eaten by a fourth of some guy!” After a heroic struggle, he managed to force a stick of dynamite into the undead creature’s gaping maw, thus ending the curse with a bang, so to speak.
A lot of people see the Halloday as just another jingoistic attempt to force patriotism on the youth. What’s often glossed over is that the European explorer tossed the American that stick of dynamite, saving his life! In reality, this Halloday should be viewed as a celebration of the importance of friendship, explosions, and properly dealing with ancient mummy curses. Of course, the best way to celebrate is in the classic tradition of hacking up a quarter of your most recently deceased loved one (or enemy, in some variances) and violently converting its mass into a fine paste with your preference of powerful explosive.
That being said, modern laws and restrictions make it increasingly difficult to explode a corpse. Even on private property. Hard to celebrate my love for a country that won’t even let me blow up a fourth of my grandfather in my own front yard. But a modern, slightly more law-friendly workaround has been circulating for a few years, now, and I’m pleased to say it’s just about as fun as the classic: After making a plaster mold of someone, you quarter it, then pick one piece and fill it with a mixture of gelatin, spaghetti noodles, and organs from a local butcher. After taking it out of the mold, blindfold the kids (or any adults that want to play, too!) and have them try to identify which fourth of the guy it is. Whoever yells it out first (“Top-left!,” etc) gets the honor of stuffing it with fireworks, and lighting the fuse. Bring tarps!
Oct. 14th – VAMPENTINE’S DAY:
Named for St. Vampentine, the patron saint of eternal codependence, this day is all about that special someone in your life. It is said that the real St. Vampentine could make anyone fall hopelessly, toxically in love with him simply by giving them a taste of his accursed blood. Which is why we celebrate to this day with that most romantic of gestures: Tricking the object of your desire into drinking your blood.
A lot of people in happy, loving relationships think that this Halloday isn’t for them. After all, St. Vampentine was said to have immediately lost interest in those poor, doomed souls who were forced by cruel blood magicks to love him above all else, at the expense of anything, at the expense of their souls. Yes, it’s true that the Halloday’s roots go back to a time of sneaking a few tablespoons of plasma into a co-worker’s coffee, desperately hoping they’ll finally say hello to you. But more and more couples have made the tradition their own, surprising each other with their blood in increasingly elaborate and increasingly romantic ways. So there’s no excuse to sit this one out. This year, let that special person know how you really feel, whether you’ve been too shy, or you’ve already said it with your words, come Vampentine’s Day, say it with your blood.
Oct. 23rd. – FRANKSGIVING:
This is a day that we all celebrate, but not all of us know just what we’re celebrating, exactly. Sure, your family has given each other Frankensteins on the 23rd of October for as long as you can remember, but do you know why they do it? Contrary to the commercial aspects of the modern Halloday, the origins are rather heartwarming.
In the early 1800s, there was a small village that couldn’t help noticing a sort of harvest that would occur around this time, every year. Yes, every October, their dead would go missing from the local graveyard. Given the life expectancy of the time, they were never short of fresh corpses to stock the graveyard with, but that wasn’t the issue for some citizens. For some of those prudish old-timers, it didn’t matter simply that they had enough bodies, they needed to have access to specific dead people, for some reason. So they hemmed and hawed, complaining about their missing loved ones (who, really, had been “missing” since they died), gathering their torches and pitchforks, and eventually discovered a brilliant and heroic doctor who was turning those worthless old corpse parts into exciting new Frankensteins.
The poor doctor, misunderstood in his time, was hanged by the prudish villagers. They couldn’t bring themselves to condemn his creations, who wore the faces of those deceased loved ones who’d gotten them so riled up in the first place. So the Frankensteins were allowed to continue existing, in their own little village of sorts, outside of town. But when the next October rolled around, more corpses went missing. The superstitious villagers worried that the doctor had found some way to bring himself back (people really were simpler, back then!), and searched his old lab. There, instead of the doctor, they were touched to find the community of Frankensteins, helping each other replace old, worn out body parts with young, fresh meat.
It is in this spirit of togetherness and community, of helping others better themselves, lending a helping hand (or foot, or ear) to your fellow abomination, that Franksgiving Day was forged. So this year, don’t rush to the Halloday section of your local grocer to pick up the mass-produced, overpriced Frankenstein gifts they keep pumping out. Instead, draw your loved ones a picture of Frankenstein. Sculpt a Frankenstein to give to them. Write them a poem about neck bolts. Surgically replace their weaker, non-dominant hand with a corpse’s stronger, dominant hand. Give them the gift of Frankenstein, in whatever way your skillset allows. But do it from the heart.
Oct. 25th. – CRINGEMAS:
This is another area where of course there are many to choose from. This is the time of year that has us saying “Happy Hallodays,” instead of “Merry Cringemas,” after all. Yes, some folks spend time locked up in their mausoleums and whatnot for Cryptmas, others commemorate the Macabrean Revolt during Hauntnukkah. All of these are wonderful celebrations with their own unique cultures and traditions, but my word count is limited, so I’ve got to pick and choose, and I choose to write what I know.
Cringemas commemorates a very special birth for some, and simply an excuse to make your loved ones viciously uncomfortable, for others. Not everyone believes that on this day, thousands of years ago, the first ever inside-out person, James Applewhite, was born. Now, I’m not here to debate whether James did or did not exist. Maybe he was an actual inside-out person. Maybe he really did leverage his disarming appearance and the charisma that accompanies freely dangling viscera to start one of the most influential unholy cults of all time. Or maybe the stories written of his deeds and exploits were simply fable and allegory. Maybe they were simply a palatable way for early civilization to share important lessons to aid their mutual growth and survival (lessons still practiced today, such as “protect your organs from birds,” or “don’t go outside in a dust storm, the dust can get in your exposed, vulnerable heart and literally kill you”). Nobody can know for sure.
What we can know is that the spirit of Cringemas is very real. It’s often called the most revolting time of the year, and I honestly believe that’s accurate. Because for one day a year, we set aside all our selfish, worldly desires. In the social media age, it can be hard to really step outside of yourself, to stop thinking about ways you wish you could be disgusted, and instead to focus on how you can disgust others. Oh, sure, it can also be tough finding that perfect gift-wrapped box of cringe to deeply unsettle those closest to you.
Do you spend weeks before the holiday collecting roadkill, and stuffing the smaller animals inside the larger animal? Do you painstakingly, individually wrap a dozen parasites ready to nest in various parts of your loved one’s anatomy? For some people, removing a few of your teeth and delivering those chipped-out bones with the still-wet roots can be enough to elicit the coveted cringe. Whatever you choose, it may take some work, but when you see that look of pure repulsion, when you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you’ve spread the Cringemas fear… It’s all worth it.
That’s it for our 2017 Halloday Guide. We hope it’s made your Boo Year a little more upsetting.