Halloween 2020 Contest: Death, Fear, & Fantasy

Halloween 2020 Contest

We know Halloween to be a cultural tradition consisting of scary movies, excessive amounts of candy, and mostly cliche costumes. 

It’s had a long evolution from an ancient Celtic ritual to honor the souls of the dead to a Roman festival of the harvest to a secular American holiday filled with ghosts, pranks, other-worldly spirits, witchcraft, and superstitions.

The modern Americanized celebration of Halloween — costumes, trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, and “scary” parties — is an event we recognize yearly but not one we often reflect on too deeply. 

Día de los Muertos is often compared to Halloween as a Mexican holiday occurring around the same time. While both holidays focus on a particular time in which spirits more easily roam the earth, integrating pagan practices and Christian holy days, they differ in their treatment of the dead. Halloween tends to focus on a fear of death and of the dead, while Día de los Muertos celebrates the lives of those who’ve passed.

So, what is it about either of these holidays that is so significant? 

Why has Halloween evolved into a cultural tradition recognized by many countries across the world? What role does fear play in our lives and how does Halloween allow us to take control of our demons? The fear of death? Fear of others? Fear of the unknown? Can fantasy make the unbearable bearable? How can we take control of the unknowable (i.e. death) and celebrate loss? How can an exaggerated celebration of mostly negative features of the human condition transform our mentality into one of wonder, joy, and understanding?

The Abstract Elephant Magazine tasks you with answering the following question:

Halloween 2020 Contest Question

What is the significance of death, fear, and fantasy in our lives? How does the cultural celebration of Halloween (or Día de los Muertos) allow us to transform reality?

All Submissions Must Include
  • a headshot
  • short author/artist bio
  • a ~60-word explanation detailing how your submission addresses TAEM’s Halloween 2020 Contest 
  • For the visual disciplines, captions for each image
60-Word Description

The ~60-word explanation is your opportunity to answer the contest’s question more directly and make a case for why/how your submission deals with the impact of death, fear, fantasy, or the cultural celebration of Halloween or Día de los Muertos. Without a thoughtful ~60-word explanation, you will not be considered for the contest.

Author Rights

By submitting with us, the author gives The Abstract Elephant Magazine LLC the right to publish the work on https://abstractelephant.com/ (i.e. first electronic rights) and the right to archive it indefinitely on our website (i.e. archival rights). 

Accepted Disciplines
  • Academic
  • Fiction
  • Poetry
  • Personal History
  • Nonfiction Essay
  • Photography
  • Visual Art 
Submission Details

There will be up to 5 winners. Each will be published and featured on https://abstractelephant.com/

We do not discriminate against political opinion, belief, or perspective. 

Submission Deadline and Contest Publication Date

Submission Deadline: October 23, 2020

Winners published on October 31, 2020.

Halloween 2020 Contest Winners


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