It’s that time of year again. Halloween: the ancient pagan ritual, Celtic harvest festival and Christian celebration of saints, coinciding with the start of Mexico's three-day Día de los Muertos celebrations. Whatever version of history you believe in, the 31st of October is a day we've decided is dedicated to the dead, and have been acknowledging it for centuries.
Really though, Halloween is a holiday for children who dress up as monsters and then, inexplicably, bang on strangers’ doors demanding sweets (despite being told that you must never do that under any circumstances, the other 364 days of the year). If you’re a teenager or at uni, Halloween is for wearing sexy costumes which you bought off Amazon or in that one Halloween shop in town that opens for about five days a year, and getting monumentally trashed on some sort of neon green drink made of mainly Glenns vodka, before vomiting in a garden. In a few hundred years, we may have new Halloween traditions. But for now, this is what we’ve got.
Once you reach your twenties though, the purpose of Halloween starts to get a little muddy. You’d get arrested if you went banging on your neighbour's door in a Texas Chainsaw Massacre mask, and cheap vodka now turns your stomach – as do most other people. But you also don't feel old or boring enough to give it up entirely, and there's a high chance you don't have kids of your own to pivot the focus to. So instead you cling on, existing in some weird liminal space between what Halloween should be, and what it actually is.
Sorry to be a miserable bitch about it, but Halloween gets noticeably more terrible in your twenties. Here are all the reasons why:
COSTUMES BECOME WEIRDLY COMPLEX AND COMPETITIVE
Five years ago, it was acceptable to stick on a pair of cat ears and fishnets and go “meow” a lot because you're a cat, duuuh. That doesn't fly in your twenties. For some reason you're expected to try harder. So instead, you have to go as, like, Brexit negotiations, or that woman yelling at cat meme, or the last person on Tinder who ghosted you – tiny beanie and all. The older you get, the more elaborate and knowing your costumes must become, with the only pay off being a big post about it on Instagram.
LIFE IS LEGIT SCARY NOW, INSTEAD OF FAKE SCARY
“Ha, ha!” You say to your flatmates weakly. “Guess what I am?” You’re wearing pieces of crumpled paper, taped together to resemble one giant piece of paper. “An unpaid invoice!” Nobody laughs. The hilarious thing is, the only reason you can’t afford to make a proper costume this year is because you do actually have five unpaid invoices due, and your follow up emails have been aired for months. Next year, maybe you could go as the mould in your bathroom, or £50,000 student debt?
YOU'LL HAVE TO WATCH A MOVIE TRILOGY AT SOME POINT
Watching back-to-back horror movies at someone's house always seem like a nice, fun compromise – you cba to go to that friend of a friend's house party in Zone 6, but it still counts as celebrating Halloween, right? That's until it's 2AM and your eyes are red raw from watching Child's Play 1, 2 and 3, and you haven't even gotten to Bride of Chucky yet. Is this… torture? Why did you think it wouldn't be?
GOING TO WORK AS AN ADULT KILLS THE VIBE GENERALLY
Remember the good old days, when you could stay up all night eating spider-filled vodka jelly and snorting MDMA out of someone's haunted necklace until you passed out in a witch's wig, and even then, you'd still be OK to make your 2PM lecture on Nabokov's Lolita the next day? Yeah that's not how it goes anymore. If you turned up to your morning meeting, age 26, with pupils like saucers and a fake axe still superglued to your head you'd probably get taken aside by Karen the office manager and asked to pack up your desk things and hand in your locker key.
YOU HAVE TO BE AROUND SOMEONE'S BOYFRIEND'S BAD COSTUME
IDK at what point Halloween goes from dressing up as monsters, zombies and witches to specifically transforming into Jimmy Savile or Kim Jong Un, but I'm guessing it hits somewhere in our twenties. There's no need.
IT SHOULD BE COOLER THAN IT IS
Listen, I don't want to hate on Halloween. Out of all the annual celebrations, it's definitely the best one – with its goth aesthetic and lack of ties to one religion. But the problem is that it looks better on paper than IRL. What would be cool is if we actually dressed up as terrifying dead people and got the day off work and gazed into mirrors in a darkened room like they made unmarried women do in the 1800s. But instead we have to listen to “Thriller” on repeat and see you and your boyfriend dress up as Stranger Things characters and pay £25 to get into a club to drink cocktails from cobweb print cups.
This article originally appeared on VICE UK.