Happy HELLOWEEN 2016

It's that traditional time of year again, when ghouls, goblins, skeletons, werewolves, vampires, and assorted other adorable little beasties will be wandering the streets tonight in search of deliciously sugary candy human souls to take home. With that in mind, here is the ONLY song you need to listen to today in order to set the mood:

A word on traditions, like Hell- er, HALLoween:

I love old-school Western traditions like this. According to at least one story that I've heard, Halloween was created by the Emperor Constantine to allow the Celts of his eastern empire a chance to let off some steam and enjoy their tradition of Samhain, even as he expanded the influence and power of Christendom.

If that story is true, then Constantine was indeed a very wise ruler. He knew that the fastest and surest way to inspire a violent reaction from his pagan subjects was to suppress their most ancient traditions. He knew that tradition is the bedrock of a culture.

It doesn't matter which culture you are talking about. This rule is universal, and we ignore it at our own great and terrible peril.

Without its traditions, American culture would be reduced to nothing more than driving along freeways from the home to the shopping mall to indulge in mindless consumerism. It already is well on its way to being precisely that, if it isn't there already.

With its traditions, American culture becomes something worthy of admiration.

There are few things that I love more than the Nativity Scene at Christmas, or the carving of the turkey at the family Thanksgiving feast, or the Veteran's Day parades.

These are not necessarily exclusively American traditions, but Americans have taken the core values and ideas behind them, and made them fresh and unique and relevant to the American experience of the world.

These traditions remind us of who we are, of what our fathers and grandfathers sacrificed for us, and of how great Western culture can be if only we would stop being such complete spanners as we destroy the very society that gave us these wonderful things.

I don't have kids, but I can think of nothing more wonderful than to be woken up at 6am on Christmas Day by the happy shrieks and laughter of little children, discovering presents under the tree. When I was little, spending Christmas at my grandparents' house was my favourite time of year.

My grandparents are long gone now, but I continue to love spending Christmas with my family at my parents' house. Out of one tradition has grown another, organically created by the same values that our forefathers passed on to us.

Traditions might appear utterly irrational to outside observers. To most Asians, for instance, the notion of a little kid decked out in a ridiculous outfit walking up to a stranger's house, knocking on the door, and asking for candy, is flatly absurd. We don't get it. We don't really have a similar tradition back in the old country.

Conversely, most Westerners look upon the Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival as more than a little ridiculous- not to mention, deeply unhygienic.

And just about no Westerner that I've ever met "gets" the concept of holi, in which Indians throw coloured powder at each other and generally create an almighty mess before stuffing their faces full of spicy food.

Similarly, diwali, the Festival of Lights, makes little sense to most Westerners. There are multiple origin stories behind diwali, each one more outlandish and silly than the last- one of them involves a monkey-god jumping over the sea separating Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Bharat (India). Most Indians don't pay terribly much attention to the origin stories and instead use the occasion as a (really very fun) excuse to detonate lots of firecrackers and sparklers on the night of a new moon.

Westerners don't quite get that, either.

Hell, I don't get it. And I'd lived in Asia for most of my childhood.

Yet, as irrational as they can be, they serve as important cultural touchstones, to remind us of our heritage and of all that we owe to it.

And of course, these traditions exist to be passed down through generations. One of the things I most admire about American culture- real American culture, to be found in the heartland of this country of wonders and riches, not the toxic swamp of SWPL stupidity that you find in the big cities- is that the rural folk of America keep their traditions alive, to be passed down to their children by example.

That is how cultures survive, and thrive. That is how it should be. Our traditions define us and give us a base upon which to build our lives, so that we can then create new, living, breathing traditions of our own.

So on this All Hallow's Eve, take your little banshee or warlock out, fill your child's bag full of tooth-rotting candy, exchange a wearily amused knowing glance with your adult neighbours, and enjoy this wonderful tradition of yours.

You might be exhausted in the evening, but it'll be worth it to see your child's face light up in a big goofy smile.


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