I've just never been that in to Halloween.
I know that some of my friends may want to disown me for saying that. But I'm not really into cosplay -- yes, I enjoy the opportunity to dress up in my regalia at FSG or Starwood or PDF, but putting on your finery to show who you are is a very different thing than putting on a costume or disguise. So when I go out tonight I'll wear something fancy, but I won't be going "as" anything.
More than that, though, I haven't figured out how to reconcile the spiritual origins of this holiday with the costumes-and-candy thing. In the old Celtic reckoning, Samhain is one of the "cross-quarter" days, and the beginning of winter; thus, a natural time to reflect on the life-and-death cycle of existence.
Rather than having the seasons start on the equinoxes and solstices, as we often talk about these days, in this more agriculturally-oriented system the seasons were deemed to start on the cross-quarter days. (Thus, the solstices are "mid-summer" and "mid-winter". The ancient Chinese calendar used a similar reckoning, so when we talk about the seasonal associations of the TCM "five elements", we're now entering the season of Water.) It looks like the Catholic Church tried to substitute "All Saints Day" or "Hallowmas" for Samhain, and thus generated "All Hallows Eve" -- Halloween -- with various bits of Pagan hangover. But the history is far from clear.
As an eclectic Neopagan, I don't feel bound by what my Celtic ancestors did -- I'm not a reconstructionalist. But the notion of this time as the start of winter feels right to me. (Especially as I step outside into the post-Sandy chill.) And it seems the right time to think of the dead, those I've lost this year: my Aunt Marcia and my "Uncle", Tom Passaro, one of my father's best friends and the man I'm named after. And those my broader communities have lost: Paul Pojman, Baltimore activist, and Owain Phyfe, a great bard to the Pagan community. And also the close encounter I had with Death this spring, where I was part of a tag-team that held her off for a while.
But it also feels right to gather with friends, to celebrate, to perhaps say farewell for a bit as we turn inward for a few months. So I'll be off to Hellawicked! at Paradox in a few hours -- though I won't be in costume, but perhaps in some sort of finery.