Doug and Lynn Nodland

Doug and Lynn Nodland

Do you suffer from samhainophobia?

You may think that’s a personal question and none of our business. Or you may be thinking — what is it and why are you asking?

Well, samhainophobia is a little-known psychological condition. It is not the fear of people named Sam Hain. The definition given by David DiSalvo in Forbes is: “A persistent, abnormal, and unwarranted fear of Halloween, despite conscious understanding by the phobic individual and reassurance by others that there is no danger.”

So how did this phobia get named? The answer to that question takes us back 2,000 years to the ancient Celts. Each Oct. 31 they held a ceremony called Samhain, which means “summer’s end,” to honor the completion of the harvest cycle. The Samhain festival featured large bonfires and ritual sacrifices to appease the dead so that they wouldn’t come back and cause trouble for the townspeople. The people also wore masks to please the spirits.

Even though you won’t find a samhainophobia diagnosis in the DSM-5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), it fits the requirement of a phobia because it involves an irrational or excessive fear related to a specific situation or object. Other phobias that are similar include wiccaphobia, the fear of witchcraft and arachnophobia, the fear of spiders. I (Lynn) admit I have that last fear. Doug likes to hide plastic spiders in drawers, just to see me jump! It’s playful fun!

You may wonder what would cause samhainophobia? Some possible reasons could be that lots of traditions around Halloween involve scary things like ghosts, skeletons, witches and vampires. Some people don’t enjoy being startled or scared.

With Halloween just a few days away, it seems there will be fewer restrictions this year than last year. So now we can wear some different masks. COVID has been like a scary goblin lurking around us for some time. It’s like we’ve been experiencing Halloween, without the fun.

Also, we’re sure it’s no fun to suffer from samhainophobia. If you have it, Halloween certainly isn’t an enjoyable holiday for you. There’s therapy using desensitization techniques, relaxation techniques and hypnotherapy, that can be helpful. It must be difficult to feel like an outsider when many people enjoy Halloween.

Yes, Halloween is popular. Did you know that Halloween is the second highest grossing commercial holiday, second only to Christmas? Halloween is also one of the most popular days for Hallmark, ranking as the 6th most popular card-giving holiday.

If you’re among those people who genuinely enjoy Halloween, what memories do you have about Halloween? We remember putting on costumes when we were young, going to neighbor’s homes and saying, “Trick or Treat!” We also look back on going to Halloween parties and playing games like, “bobbing for apples.” The health department would have a fit over that game today! Even as adults, we dressed up when we took the kids around the neighborhood.

What was your favorite treat to get in your goodie bag when trick or treating? One of ours was the Almond Joy or Mounds bar. They were yummy and more expensive than the other candy bars. Then, they cost about ten cents versus half that for the others. Today that same candy bar costs $1.29! According to, America’s top favorite candies for Halloween are Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups followed by Skittles and M&Ms. Candy Corn is No. 10.

Carving pumpkins remains a favorite thing to do at Halloween for kids of all ages. Doug is a master at pumpkin carving. This year, however, it’s been busy so we’ll have to just pull out the old ceramic pumpkin.

Did you know that the first jack-o’-lanterns were made from potatoes, beets and turnips? Those sound really hard to carve, don’t they? Did you ever wonder how the term jack-o’-lantern came into being? Again, it goes back to Ireland. Legend has it that an Irishman named Stingy Jack tricked the devil. Therefore, he wasn’t allowed in either heaven or hell. Instead he spent his days roaming the earth carrying a lantern. He went by the name of ‘Jack of the Lantern,’ which morphed into Jack O’ Lantern.

What about you? What kind of Halloween are you planning this year? Now you have more Halloween facts than you probably ever wanted to know. But think how prepared you are for that big day.

Hopefully, if you suffer from samhainophobia, the symptoms will vanish like a ghost so you can also enjoy the holiday. We wish you a Happy Halloween that’s peaceful, safe and lots of fun!

Chanhassen residents Doug and Lynn Nodland are success coaches and owners of The Balance Center. Doug and Lynn can be contacted at More information and videos at