Soon it will be that particular and unique day of the year in which a certain portion of the population feels oddly compelled to dress up in costumes. They will run rampant through normally quiet and civil neighborhoods, blackmailing innocent civilians into giving them sugary foodstuffs in exchange for abstaining from performing nefarious pranks on them.
I can't wait.
For those of you who are somehow oblivious to western culture, I am referring to the phenomenon known as Halloween. Little kiddies dress up as ghosts and witches and pumpkins, and sometimes ninjas. They run around collecting an ever-growing stash of candy, and (thankfully) generally refraining from engaging in devilish acts.
Halloween is far from a holiday for kids only. Adults will oftentimes indulge in costuming as well, though the effect is markedly different. Little candy is consumed, and instead all manner of morally questionable activities occur, typically with a measure of mischievous glee.
Although modern-day Halloween is a unique beast, like most holidays its roots can be found in pagan religion. In Gaelic culture, it was believed that the dead caused problems for the living during harvest. Masks were used to hide from evil, bonfires were lit, and small offerings of harvested produce were made in an effort to appease the dead. Interestingly, the name is not pagan, but instead originated in the term "All Hallows Eve," referring to All Hallows Day (now All Saints Day), a religious holiday which was celebrated the following day.
As far as I'm concerned, this tradition of pretending to be someone you aren't and engaging in aberrant behavior is one of the best things that humans have ever thought up, coming in right behind cable television and potato chips. Temporarily taking on an alternate persona allows for a great deal of creativity, both in children and adults. Don't kid yourself - we might as well call it National Make-Believe Day, because that's exactly what we're all doing. We all engage in role-playing for an evening.
Last year, I was a Smurf (from the cartoon) for Halloween. There was a lot of falsetto singing and high-pitched talking involved. About a gallon of blue paint was employed as well. Good times were had.