1. The weather.
October, bar none, has the best atmospheric conditions of any month. It’s not too hot, but it’s not too cold, either – and if there’s any better feeling in nature than having a brisk autumn wind sweep through your hair, I’m not sure I want to experience it.
2. Pumpkin spice everything.
Yeah, it might be one of the most “basic” things in the world, but come on, who doesn’t look forward to gulping down that first pumpkin spice latte of the year? Between the pumpkin spice flavored cupcakes, Pop-Tarts, granola bars, ice cream, chewing gum and – heaven help us, vodka – you can pretty much go the entire month eating and drinking nothing but PSL derivatives these days.
3. Seasonal Halloween supply stores.
It’s not officially fall until you start seeing those costume, prop and accessory shops taking up residence in your neighborhoods’ abandoned storefronts. Effectively temples of kitschy ephemera, these short-term businesses – what, with their overpriced fog machines and gallons of fake blood and special effects CDs and junior-sized Michael Myers costumes – are every bit the harbinger of fall as the changing of the leaves.
4. SO. MUCH. FOOTBALL.
You get a solid 12 hours of college ball on Saturday, another 12 hours of pro pigskin action on Sunday, and at least a four-hour sliver of gridiron goodness every Monday and Thursday evening, too. Plus, this early on in the season, every team still has a shot. Well, unless your team is the Cleveland Browns, anyway.
5. Eating ALL the candy.
Forget Valentine’s Day, Halloween is THE prime time of the year to scarf down chocolatey and sugary comestibles. Not only do you have a convenient excuse to chow down on bags and bags of the tried-and-true staples, you also get to slake your sweet tooth on all sorts of limited-time only items that only seem to rear their heads around Halloween-time. Without fail, I manage to eat my own weight in candy corn every October … and regrets, I have none.
6. Nonstop spooky movies on TV.
There aren’t that many things in life better than coming home from a hard day of work, kicking off your shoes, reclining in your favorite chair and being treated to a nonstop bombardment of horror classics for an entire month. Does life get any better than going to bed to The Exorcist III and waking up to Evil Dead 2? No, it most certainly doesn’t.
7. It’s the only time you can watch all of the major sports at the same time.
It’s true: October is the only month of the year you can see regular season or post-season pro baseball, basketball, football, soccer and hockey at the same time. And really, waiting for the Chicago Cubs to implode in the most heartbreaking way imaginable is pretty much a seasonal rite on par with making jack-o’- lanterns, isn’t it?
8. It’s National Pizza Month.
In addition to all of the miscellaneous All Hallows Eve fun and games, October is also the official month of the absolute greatest foodstuff known to man. Which means it is your proud civic duty as an American to celebrate by eating as much deep dish and pan style pizza as your stomach lining will allow, just like Abraham Lincoln probably wanted.
9. The costumes.
Whether asinine or risqué, ridiculously detailed or absurdly non-specific, needlessly gory or gratuitously skimpy, watching people strut their stuff in whatever tacky, zany, scary, hilarious or offensive alter ego they so-chose is undoubtedly one of the most appealing aspects of the season – even if your girlfriend refuses to dress up like Harley Quinn, like you’ve been politely suggesting for the last five Halloweens.
10. Fall festivals.
To some, county fairs and hay rides and (insert whatever your town or city’s most famous crop)-fests are boring, bucolic odes to the nothingness of uneventful, agrarian life. Which is partially true, but hey! You still get funnel cakes, and it’s pretty hard to complain about that.
11. The foliage.
In today’s high-tech, always-online, social-media-fueled world, it’s easy to overlook the simple beauty of the natural world around us. Walking through the woods and smelling the crisp scent of all those crinkly brown, orange, red and yellow leafs as they rustle in the breeze is undoubtedly one of the best free-of-charge moments any of us can, and ever will, experience.
12. Haunted houses!
You pay $20 bucks to have a bunch of high school juniors dressed up like Hellraiser demons jump out at you and go “ooga booga booga” amidst the absolute sensorial dysphoria of dry ice, strobe lights and blaring heavy metal music. Just try explaining this in a way that makes any kind of sense to anyone overseas.
13. Making outlandish homemade treats.
Anybody can amble on into the local Kroger or Walgreens and load up on Twinkies and Oreos. If you really want to get into the spirit of Halloween, you and your significant other have to get your derrieres into the kitchen and start whipping up all sorts of seasonally thematic treats and dinners. If you haven’t at least attempted to make Medusa hair spaghetti or Frankenstein-shaped brownies, you’ve failed the Halloween test and terribly.
14. The darkness – outside and within.
With the days getting shorter and night sneaking up on you at 6 p.m., the atmosphere is perfect for dwelling on the creepier things in life. The ambiance naturally lends itself to late nights reading spooky true crime stories on the Internet, or curling up next to a pitch black window with a nice, eerie paperback … that is, if you’ve got the guts.
15. Hearing the Halloween theme song and Thriller over and over again, no matter where you go.
It doesn’t matter where you find yourself – at the mall, at Burger King, at the bowling alley, at a theme park, waiting in line at the movies, etc. – if it’s between Oct. 1 and Oct. 31, you’re going to be hearing the staccato-notes of John Carpenter’s beloved slasher movie theme and M.J.’s trademark, decades-defining tune a million-billion times … and you still won’t be tired of hearing either of them, neither. FUN FACT: Did you know that Thriller actually began life as an entirely different song called “Starlight?” Well, it did.
16. Intentionally Netflixing the worst horror films you can find.
Good horror movies are dandy and all, but if you really want to get into the Hallow-mood, you’ve got to get knee-deep into some serious grade-Z fare. And there isn’t a better way to “treat” yourself to the genre’s worst of the worst than by logging into Netflix and playing WiFi Russian Roulette, with such disastrous outcomes as The Human Centipede 2 and Burying the Ex waiting for you on the other end of your clicker.
17. You can wear a hoodie every day.
Thanks to the brisker temperatures, your wardrobe dilemmas get a lot less vexing; just slap on your favorite sweatshirt or jacket and you are good to go!
18. Gaudy colors are not only acceptable, but encouraged.
Halloween is pretty much the only time of year when outlandish and absurd patterns, tones and hues are OK to wear in public. In fact, if you DON’T wear neon purple jeggings, adorn pastel orange spaghetti straps, dye your hair fluorescent spray-can green, paint your nails glow-in-the-dark eggplant or head to the gym rocking dark blue lipstick – complemented, of course, by your oversized, plastic pink hoop earrings – you’re actually considered the cultural lamewad.
19. Breaking out the Halloween-themed playlist on your iPhone.
If you don’t have an All Hallows Eve setlist on your MP3 player, you better make one. If there’s anything more awesome than hitting the stairmasters while listening to The Misfits, “My Mind’s Playing Tricks on Me” by the Geto Boys or the theme song from The Exorcist, nobody’s told me about it.
20. The parties.
Well, this one is a no-brainer. Social mixers are fun in and of themselves, but when it’s a social mixer where everybody’s drunk on pumpkin-flavored beer, Freddy Krueger movies are playing on a loop on the TV and there’s at least a 50/50 chance you’ll wind up making out with somebody dressed up like Poison Ivy before the night’s over, parties throughout the rest of the year feel downright subdued by comparison.
Say what you will about the Germans, it’s pretty hard to dislike any ethnic group that builds a half-month long celebration around drinking beer and eating bratwursts. Granted, most of it takes place in September, but still: I’ll take one week in October chowing down on schweinebraten and obatzda over no weeks in October chowing down on schweinebraten and obatzda anytime.
22. Pulling off THE greatest Halloween prank.
Whether it’s soaping up your fifth grade teacher’s windshield as an 11-year-old, pouring Jell-O in the college fountain when you are 21 or toilet papering your boss’ office at 31, being a mischievous, misdemeanor-committing cretin is one of October’s most cherished and time-honored traditions. And remember: just as long as the property damage doesn’t exceed $10 and nothing gets caught on fire, everything is fair game.
23. Pretty much everybody and anything gets at least one day dedicated to themselves.
I had no idea there were so many observances – official and unofficial – going on in October. There are weeks dedicated to asexual awareness, mental illness awareness and medical assistants. October is also designated as Dwarfism/Little People Awareness Month, LGBT History Month, National Hispanic Heritage Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Filipino American History Month and both Italian and Polish Heritage month. Oh, and there are also internationally recognized days in October dedicated to all of the following: vegetarians, teachers, intersex folks and the blind. Pretty much every kind of special interests group you can think of is well represented throughout the month – if you can’t find at least one niche observation you can relate to on this list, you just aren’t paying attention.
24. Forgetting Columbus Day exists and getting a totally unexpected day off.
On the negative side, Christopher Columbus was a really, really racist dude who purportedly cut the hands off slaves and had a thing for raping and torturing indigenous peoples. But on the positive side? Well, it is pretty nice getting a day off that you completely forget about each year, I suppose.
25. Candle shopping.
Now this one is really underrated. With all of the pumpkin and candy and coffee and other fallish scents and smells, October is without question the best time of year to hit up the mall and pick yourself up some waxy home supplies. And if you don’t want your house smelling like a salted mocha cappuccino until Christmas for some reason, who doesn’t enjoy watching novelty “bleeding candles” slowly simmer into a faint ember in the wee morning hours?
26. You can get summery stuff at dirt cheap prices.
With the temperatures slowly creeping into the 60s and 50s (that’s in Fahrenheit, non-Yanks), retailers usually begin discounting their summery apparel and goods at insanely low markdowns in October to make way for all of the wintery stuff. And if you keep a keen eye on the sales papers, you can feasibly pick up an entire summer wardrobe for less than $100.
27. Watching all the classic Halloween TV episodes on a loop.
Halloween episodes are always the best holiday-themed TV programs. I mean, do I really need to explain why The Simpsons and Roseanne are must-watch programming around All Hallows Eve? Hell, I’m still watching Treehouse of Horror specials in February, most years.
28. Going all out with the decorations.
I mean going absolutely bananas. We’re talking severed zombie parts in the driveway, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man on your roof, a wolfman hanging out of your trees and a big old Frankenstein poster covering up your front door. And if there isn’t a bare minimum of at least eight jack-o’-lanterns surrounding the perimeter of your abode, it’s time to head to the grocery store and buy you some damn carving tools.
29. Four words: General Mills Monster Cereal.
There is nothing more glorious than starting your morning with a big, almond-milk-glutted bowl of Count Chocula, FrankenBerry and BooBerry … especially if all three of them are mixed together with a couple of chopped of banana pieces as garnish. Now, if only we could convince GM to bring Yummy Mummy and Frute Brute out of retirement…
30. Pumpkin carving!
Yeah, it’s a really basic element of the season, but we always run the risk of overlooking just how much fun (and weird) this October rite is. “Hey kids, come on over here and help daddy turn this orange fruit into a gargoyle’s face with sharp equipment, so we can set it on fire and put on the front porch to freak out our neighbors!”
31. The political mudslinging is almost over.
…then, it’s time for the real horror to sink in.