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Five reasons why we need Halloween

Jeremy Adam Smith, Editor, Greater Good Magazine | October 31, 2013


Did I scare you?

No? Let’s try this: Scientists currently predict global sea levels could rise up to 1.5 meters by 2100, a process that could drown cities and trigger widespread human famine and wildlife extinction.

Scared? You should be—and hopefully that little stab of fear and dread compels you to make some lifestyle changes and influences your votes.

But I don’t want to talk about doomsday. I’m here to talk about Halloween. And my real point is that real fear does not feel good. So why are we so prone to giggling at this kind of fright-based Halloween tomfoolery?

The answer, says the research, is that we need holidays like Halloween and Dia de los Muertos because they ritualize our fears, mainly of death. “Halloween rituals turn horror into play, death into levity, gore into laughter,” says UC Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner.

So Halloween isn’t just a way to sell candy and inappropriately sexy Halloween costumes. Here are five scientifically validated reasons for you to treat-or-treat.

Read the rest on the website of the UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center.