The worst thing about November is that we have to wait a whole year for Halloween to come around again, but before you get too bummed, take a look at these great holidays that can give you a second taste of the Halloween spirit before Christmas comes around.
National Metal Day- Nov. 11
Everyone knows that metal and Halloween go together like vampires and blood, so National Metal Day is the perfect time to crank up your Halloween tunes and start putting together next year’s party playlist. Why November 11th? Rumor has it that the date has something to do with the mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap and Tufnel’s assertion that his amps “go to 11”. Whatever the reason, we’re glad the genre has a day of recognition. Even though 2020 has been a lousy year for live performances, several new metal albums have dropped or are upcoming later this fall from favorites and newcomers to the scene, including Marilyn Manson, Paradise Lost, Bring me the Horizon, Enslaved, Fates Warning, and Corey Taylor.
For those of you just beginning to explore metal music, here are a few classic albums to mine for your Halloween playlist:
Black Sabbath- Master of Reality (1971)
Just about any Black Sabbath album would fit the bill, but Master of Reality is one of their most doom-laden records to date and features the excellent track “Children of the Grave.”
Misfits- Collections I and II (1986-1995)
These compilations are a great introduction to the horror-punk sounds of the Misfits. You get all sorts of Halloween-ready songs about zombies, vampires, aliens, and even the holiday itself, plus their other classic tracks like “Die, Die My Darling.”
Type O Negative
Coming in on the goth side of the metal spectrum, most of Type O Negative’s work embodies the feeling of Halloween. The track “Black no. 1” on their Bloody Kisses album and “All Hallows Eve” off World Comes Down are great places to start.
Fun Fact: There are over 12 million metal bands in the world. The Scandinavian nations hold the record for the most metal bands per capita, with Finland topping the list at 53.5 metal bands per 100,000 people.
Occult History Day- Nov. 18
What could be more Halloween than a day celebrating the history of everything occult? The word occult is derived from a Latin word meaning “hidden” or “secret.” That broad definition sums up the occult’s modern-day idea, which includes everything from tarot cards and witchcraft to Jewish Kabbalah practices. Every culture has mystic sects and taboo rituals. Nov. 18th is a day to learn more about what lies beneath the surface of human societies and open your mind to the possibility of the Unseen.
If you’ve heard all you want to about Alistair Crowley and want more info on lesser-known occultists throughout history, check out Wikipedia’s List of Occultists page. They include everything from ancient people who would probably be called “scientists” if they were around today to medieval magicians and members of secret societies. Some of them come with bizarre stories like St. Cyprian of Antioch, patron saint of dark magic (who knew that was a thing?) who converted to Christianity after his crush resisted his love spells through prayer. What a plot twist.
If you’re less interested in the “history” part and more interested in modern ways to celebrate this holiday, check out these classic shows for a fun way to get into the spirit:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Full of nineties cheese and lots of snark, Buffy might be the funniest ode to the occult ever made. Buffy’s friend Willow becomes a witch, and her mentor Giles has the dream job of exploring ancient occult texts for info on the latest Big Bad.
An early 2000’s drama about a woman who sees ghosts and makes it her mission to help them move on. It includes another Professor of the Occult (Career Goals!) who helps Jennifer Love-Hewitt’s character out with the nitty-gritty details of fighting off demons and assisting friendly ghosts to the other side.
The title pretty much says it all. Demons, magic, and all things, well, supernatural, take center stage in this drama about two brothers who criss-cross the country killing monsters.
Taboo (National Geographic)
This doc series was one of the best educational shows of the early 2000’s, and you can watch it again on YouTube for a small fee. The show explores the “taboos” of various societies and covers everything from devil worship to body modification. They take special care to explain how the practice they are covering is viewed within its society (some things are taboo to us but not to the culture being filmed), and they let practitioners explain what their beliefs or practices mean to them. Some episodes may feel a bit dated, but overall it’s a great insight into the “hidden” things that go on every day.
All Saints Day and Dia De Los Muertos
By the time you read this, these November holidays will have come and gone, but it’s not too late to keep them in mind for next year. November 1st is the Christian feast of All Saints Day, a centuries-old tradition honoring the lives of loved ones who’ve passed in the previous year. Many people around the world celebrate by visiting their loved ones graves and setting a place for deceased relatives at the table.
Dia De Los Muertos is a similar holiday, falling just one day later on Nov. 2nd, but the celebrations are much more colorful. Mostly observed in Mexico (and by Mexicans the world over), Dia De Los Muertos celebrates the lives of loved one’s who’ve passed and invites their spirits to spend some time with the living and enjoy a meal. People celebrate by bringing favorite foods to their loved one’s graves and setting up altars at home that honor the deceased. Many towns in the U.S hold celebrations for Dia de Los Muertos that include parades, dancing, and lots of delicious food. If you’ve never joined in on a community celebration of Dia De Los Muertos, hopefully you’ll get the chance to do so next year, when (fingers crossed) we’re allowed outside again.
So there you have it, November isn’t so bad after all. There are plenty of ways to ease your post-Halloween blues this month. Don’t forget that some haunted houses like Castle of Chaos in Midvale, UT are still open and offering post-Halloween escape room scares in a Covid-safe environment.