Tomorrow I leave for Charleston, South Carolina, where I will spend my favorite holiday with one of my favorite people. Charleston has no shortage of spooks. After all, it is a colonial era city, filled with churches and graveyards, and perhaps a more ignominious distinction of being a major port for slave trade between the early wars. This will be my second year celebrating Halloween in Charleston, and I look forward to all the shenanigans the weekend has to to offer (including a haunted hayride at Boone Farm!) But I must admit, as someone who is possessed by an affinity for ghoul culture, I have a Bucket List of destinations I’d love to visit for Halloween someday.
1. Salem: Witches (USA)
New England Autumns are legendary and Salem tops EVERY Halloween destination list. Like Charleston, Salem’s macabre past lends to its lure. A place once hundreds of years ago found itself engulfed by the hysteria of witch trials now finds itself welcoming Halloween with weeks of festivals. And it all looks like so much fun! Seriously, I was sold on Salem during the first five minutes of the first time I saw Hocus Pocus (I was 6) (shh! you were too). Hundreds of viewings later, I’m still ready to have a spell put on me.
2. Mexico: Skeletons
Dia de los Muertos is not celebrated on October 31, but it shares in some of the Halloween traditions – the idea being that for one day, family and friends can gather together and be reunited with their dead loved ones. What I love most about it is the colorful imagery – the hallmark being a whimsical skeleton in a fabulous hat: La Catrina.
The Mexican celebration of Dia de los Muertos is rooted in something beautiful: the idea that death of a body is not the death of the soul.
3. Romania: Vampires
Before vampires were dreamy, they were pretty bloody terrifying. They didn’t attend high school. They lived in CASTLES! In Romania! And they vanted to suck vour BLOOD! As a kid, I used to think that Dracula might be lurking around the corner, but that’s because I thought Transylvania was Pennsylvania’s sister state. Good thing he lived across the ocean (and, I guess, in another century) because blood sucking isn’t sexy. It’s scary. But capes are sexy.
Happy Halloween, friends, readers, and people who randomly clicked on my blog! It’s really interesting to me that there is this one day (except for zombies – living undead everywhere from AMC to Jane Austen novels 24/7/365) on the calendar that allows people across all cultures to embrace what we all collectively fear: death. So go on with your bad selves: get costumed up as slutty ________s and carve pumpkins and eat fun-sized candy bars to your beating heart’s delight. Because what better way to feel alive than to celebrate the dead? May your journey to the grave be long, and adventurous.
What destination should I include on my list? New Orleans for voodoo? Egypt for mummies? Any old house for the ghosts?