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Samhainophobia: The Fear of Halloween

Did you ever wonder about the homes in your neighborhood that never put their porch light on, never pass out candy, have no Halloween decorations and all their windows and blinds are tightly closed? It’s possible that those behind the triple-locked doors are suffering through Samhainophobia (pronounced Sow-wen-ophobia - "Samhain" is an ancient celtic word).

What is Samhainophobia?

Easily described, Samhainophobia is a fear of Halloween. Simple references to Halloween rituals cause panic. Even the buildup of advertising and decorations prior to October 31 causes anxiety in those with Samhainophobia. And it gets worse as the date gets closer.

Samhainophobia is also known as:

  • The fear of Samhain
  • A phobia of Halloween
  • A phobia of Samhain
  • Halloween fear
  • Samhain fear
  • Halloween phobia
  • Samhain phobia

A phobia is an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something. Therefore, anyone with Samhainophobia will do whatever it takes to avoid anything that has to do with Halloween.

Other Phobias Common During the "Halloween Season"

Compiled by Sharyn's Slant



Fear of cats


Fear of cemeteries


Fear of ghosts


Fear of witches or witchcraft

Even these plastic beads could cause extreme fear in someone with Samhainophobia.

Even these plastic beads could cause extreme fear in someone with Samhainophobia.

What are the Symptoms of Samhainophobia?

Symptoms vary by person as with any phobia. The signs are characteristic to those associated with panic such as:

  • Feelings of dread
  • Excessive anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Slurred speech
  • Trembling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat

Children and Samhainophobia

A child is supposed to enjoy Halloween “just like everyone else.” Therefore, a child with symptoms of Samhainophobia is much more likely to be made fun of by their peers. Because of this, it can be even more devastating and difficult to overcome.

Young children can be scared very easily, especially by things they do not understand. Their fears are real. They should never be laughed at or dismissed. Children need to be told and reassured about all the things related to Halloween that seem scary but are just for fun.

What are the Causes of Samhainophobia?

If Halloween scares you, then you are definitely not alone, even though there is some debate as to whether or not Samhainophobia truly exists and causes distress that is genuine to its sufferers.

But, anyone who has ever had a panic attack understands that the fear and symptoms are real. There is no debate.

Because our mind is incredibly powerful, a phobia such as Samhainophobia can be so alarming that the victim becomes incapacitated. Phobias commonly arise from a combination of heredity (internal genetics) and real-life traumatic events (external factors).

It is possible that Samhainophobia can be traced back to a specific traumatic event that triggered this phobia at an early age. For some people, it may be brought out by other fears such as Sociophobia (fear of people) or Pedophobia (fear of children).

My Personal Halloween Phobia Story

If any of my close friends or family read this, they may be surprised to know that I do not like Halloween.

- Did I dress up in costumes for Halloween when I was younger? Yes

- Did I run door to door trick or treating for candy and coins? Yes

- Have I been to Halloween parties? Yes

- Do I have a fear of Halloween? YES

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I’m not sure what really prompted me to write this article. I can tell you that it was a big trigger for me as my own personal thoughts about Halloween definitely came into play.

Figuring Out Why I'm Afraid of Halloween

I believe that I went along with the tradition of Halloween as a child because it was what every kid did. But as an adult, the fact is that I do not like Halloween and am kind of afraid of it too.

Why? I’m honestly not sure but if I figure it out, I will definitely let you know.

This is what I do know:

  • My mother loved Halloween. We had a huge picture window on the front of our house. Every year she would paint a different Halloween picture over the entire window. She would place a stereo speaker near the front door and play scary music really loud. Most of the lights would be shut off in the house making it even spookier. I remember changing bulbs in the lamps to black lights. Mom would cover herself in a bed sheet and a scary face mask waiting for the next kids to come running up our steps. Everyone loved coming to our house. And mom loved seeing all the kids dressed up. Decades later, some still talk about it. Did this affect me? I really don’t think so. I was never ever afraid of my mom, not even on Halloween.
  • Additionally, vivid pictures still come to mind of my next door neighbor Paul and his son John dressing up in scary costumes on Halloween. The dad would hide around the house and jump out when you would approach their front steps. The son would sit, very still, in a chair in the middle of the front lawn, dressed as a scarecrow or “dummy.” Everyone walking by would assume it was a “stuffed” decoration until John started chasing us down the street. My screams were louder than their blaring scary music. Did this affect me? I believe so, to a certain extent.
  • I remember as a young child being forced by friends to go through haunted houses. This terrified me to tears. As I got into high school and friends were planning their annual visits to haunted houses, I would force myself to go with them in fear of being "different." But I always felt sick. I always hated it. I always panicked. Did this affect me? Absolutely.
  • When I was a very young adult, my grandfather passed away on Halloween. Did this affect me and add to my fear? I’m not sure.
  • I don’t like passing out candy, never did. I have, but I don’t like it. I guess, somehow, I am afraid of who will “surprise ME” when I open the door.
  • Even as an adult, I can remember feeling fearful of the approaching “trick or treat” time. If I was driving my car during that time span, I felt extremely cautious. And I always felt relieved when it was time for people to shut the porch lights off.
  • When someone is covered in a full costume where you have no idea who is underneath, that freaks me out. I can’t help it. I don’t like the guessing game. I do feel panic because it is just plain creepy to me.

To this day, I am always glad when Halloween is over.

Do I have Samhainophobia? I’m not positive. But I’m leaning toward “yes” because as I am writing, I am feeling a little nauseous, clammy, itchy and whole lot of fear. And I am not joking!

Samhainophobia Poll

Help for Those Who Fear Halloween

If the effects of Samhainophobia are extremely bothersome and devastating, speaking with a medical professional is recommended. Trying to avoid the triggers that cause this phobia can ease the symptoms although treatments such as counseling, hypnotherapy or psychotherapy may be encouraged.

Medications, such as those for anxiety, could possibly be prescribed. But keep in mind that these medicines are intended to suppress the symptoms, not cure them.

Samhainophobia is not a joke. If you know of someone who has a fear of Halloween, please do not make fun of them. There are probably much deeper reasons for their irrational fear that are not easily explained or understood.

This is Sharyn’s Slant


Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on October 31, 2016:

Awwww thanks for your support Martie! Hope all is well with you!

Martie Coetser from South Africa on October 30, 2016:

Sharyn, your honesty touches my heart. Being the odd one out during traditional festivals is not easy. I am on your side and glad Halloween is not a traditional festival in South Africa, although some individuals do grab the opportunity to organize a party :)

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on October 22, 2014:

Hi Mo ~ I don't have any brothers that scared me but I did have male neighbors that really like to have "fun" on Halloween and scare everyone that came to their house. Thanks so much for your feedback and sharing this article too!!!


Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on October 22, 2014:

Hello truthfornow ~ A lot of people have never heard of this but it is real. I don't like horror movies either. Many years ago I went to the theater to see Friday the 13th. That movie haunted me for months. Still bothers me if I see that it's on television. Thanks so much for your comments.


Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on October 21, 2014:

Hello Seasons Greetings,

I do feel it is the fear of the unexpected. Not knowing who is behind a mask/costume is very unsettling to me. And I guess I fear that the "person" who is scaring me is not just doing it for fun and I'm going to get hurt (or someone is going to get hurt). Thank you for sharing your fear of frogs/toads/tall grass. It reminds me that I also do not like balloons. It's the fear of not knowing if/when they are going to pop. lol


Marisa Hammond Olivares from Texas on October 13, 2014:

I'm a total scardy cat! I grew up with four older brothers and they LOVED to terrorize me. I get more than a bit anxious during Halloween but I do enjoy giving out candy. Great info!


Marie Hurt from New Orleans, LA on September 28, 2014:

I have never heard of this fear. Some people I know don't participate for religious reasons. I don't participate anymore. Though, I do like buying bags of candy. No trick or treaters where I live. It has become too dangerous and more and more people aren't allowing their kids to go. I do have a fear of haunted houses and would never ever go to one. I hate the idea of people jumping out at you, but I don't mind horror movies. So, go figure.

Laura Brown from Ontario, Canada on September 28, 2014:

What a shame to have this fear. I wonder if it boils down to fearing the unexpected? I don't like frogs and toads mainly because they jump. I almost have a fear of walking in long grass when we are exploring because of the dread that something (frogs and toads mainly) will jump out - or that I will accidentally step on one of them which I think I actually did do once. If I let it happen I could have a phobia about walking in long grass. I do tend to overthink and over imagine.

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on November 13, 2013:

Hi Mythbuster ~ thank you for your very insightful comment. It is strange that we constantly tell our kids to stay away from strangers yet on Halloween, that is exactly what we tell/let them do. Thank you for stopping by.


mythbuster from Utopia, Oz, You Decide on November 11, 2013:

Great article. I'll bet a whole ton of people suffer with samhainophobia but don't ever say anything. Thanks for sharing information and experiences here. Again, I'll bet a lot of people can relate to the details from your personal (mostly bad) experiences of the Hallowe'en celebration that comes around once a year. I think a LOT of kids are actually frightened by things going on at Hallowe'en but there's peer pressure to do what everyone else is doing. A lot of planning goes into the "mock-holiday," so I think that acts like "foot-in-the-door" technique (give a little/agree to a little and can't back out when the environment becomes more severe and uncomfortable). I like the idea of neighbourhood get-togethers, community centre events for families, kids, on Hallowe'en night. Door-to-door stuff, strangers, masks... on any other day we'd be RIGHT to be afraid!

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on November 03, 2013:

Hi Denise ~ Happy Halloween to you too, glad you enjoyed this article. Sorry my comment is so late :)

Hi Susan ~ I have a hard time believing that you "stink" at Halloween. You are quite creative and really funny too!

Hi Cousins ~ I totally understand how you feel. I also fear that something bad is going to happen on Halloween. I worry about things like kids being hit by a car and stuff like that.

Thank you all for stopping by and leaving such great comments!!!


Your Cousins from Atlanta, GA on October 30, 2013:

I don't know if I have a phobia, but I became "afraid" of Halloween when I was living alone and would not open the door to trick-or-treaters. I do treat now, but I always worry on Halloween about something bad happening to children. Voted up and interesting.

Susan Holland from Southwest Missouri on October 29, 2013:

I had never heard the term, but I do know people with this fear. I don't fear Halloween, I just stink at it. I am not very creative, and my poor kids suffered for it. LOL

Votes and shares! :-)

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on October 29, 2013:

Very interesting hub, Sharon. I really enjoyed it. :) Up and across...sharing. Happy Halloween to you.

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on October 19, 2013:

Hi Flourish ~ ha ha, thanks for all the details! Sounds like you have a blast. I don't feel as "afraid" as I used to.

FlourishAnyway from USA on October 17, 2013:

Sharyn, I love your story but feel bad for scared little Sharyn being chased down the street. Now I feel a little guilty for putting the scary things out on my porch like the bucket of running blood (complete with running faucet), the six foot tall grim reaper, life-sized skeletons that glow in the dark, and my three black cats who safely hang out with me on Halloween and pass out candy. We have so much fun but there's always the kids or adults (!!) who are genuinely frightened. Voted up and more!

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on October 09, 2013:

Hi Vinaya ~ I apologize for not responding sooner but I am not receiving my notifications. Thank you so much for stopping by to read and comment.

Vinaya Ghimire from Nepal on September 25, 2013:

Halloween is not a part of our culture, but we do have a festival similar to Halloween.

I learned something knew from this hub. Thanks for sharing.

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on December 03, 2012:

Hi Shai ~ great to meet you. Thank you so much for your detailed feedback. btw, I don't like clowns either :)

Although I'll never forget that my Grandpa died on Halloween, I really think the thing that has "haunted" me the most was my neighbors. Of course they were scaring us out of fun but . . .

I'm so glad you stopped by! Thank you for the follow and fan mail as well.


Chen on December 03, 2012:

Wow, I knew some people feared Halloween (mainly for religious reasons, Christians fearing it was Satanic or that Pagans/witches were attacking people). But I didn't know there was a word for it, or a condition. I would say I believe it totally exists... I can understand how not liking the costumes & haunted houses & scary surprises could make you uncomfortable, just like some people fear clowns/fun houses, or dolls, or the unknown in general. I'm sure your grandfather's death did not help at all. Wonderful article, VU & very interesting.

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on November 02, 2012:

Hi Richard ~ Wow, what a story. You are really lucky. Heck yeah I'd have a fear of wire clotheslines too. Wonder if there is a phobia name for that, ha? Thanks so much for sharing your great story in a way that only you can:) I appreciate you stopping by!


Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on November 01, 2012:

Hi Paula ~ I am so happy to be able to teach you a new word :) Thank you so much for your feedback. No trick or treating for me!


Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on November 01, 2012:

Hi Mary ~ Oh, I don't like bees (or wasps) either. I'm sure there is a phobia name for that too! I agree that as we learn about other phobias and fears, it helps us understand others better. Thank you so much for your feedback and votes.


Rich from Kentucky on November 01, 2012:

Sharon, I have no fear of Halloween. I almost died one Halloween, but I have no fear. We were throwing corn at cars (called corning back then in the corn country of Indiana) in a small town. After throwing our corn, a car stopped and two police officers got out quickly of their unmarked vehicle. We took off, running through backyards to escape. Back then, there were a lot of backyard clotheslines. Some were a rope style and others metal wire. Not seeing it in the darkness, my neck met the wire and my feet kept going ... up in the air. I landed on my back and crawled into a cinder block trash burner to escape the chasing police. As they ran by, I suddenly realized that the fall had knocked the wind out of me, and I couldn't breathe. Finally, I was able to get the wind back, and ended up the next day with a nice bruise across the front of my neck. But, I don't fear Halloween, just wire clotheslines! : ) Great Hub!

Suzie from Carson City on October 31, 2012:

Sharyn....LOL....Samhainophobia? Can honestly say I never heard that term before now. I guess there can be a phobia for just about anything. I don't have a fear of Halloween, but I've not ever visited a Haunted House or been scared to death by creepy is a great read. BTW..."Happy Halloween" whether you're Tricking or Treating!....UP+++

Mary Craig from New York on October 31, 2012:

There are so many fears suffered by so many people. I'm afraid of bees so I understand. I didn't realize there was a name for fear of Halloween so I found this very useful. The more we learn about other's fears the more understanding we become. Great job Sharyn!

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on October 28, 2012:

Hello collinmoore ~ a lot of people are surprised and never heard of this phobia. Thank you for your sweet and sensitive comments. Very much appreciated. And a big Happy Birthday to you!


Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on October 28, 2012:

Hiya Eddy ~ great to see you! Thank you so much for stopping by. Hope you enjoyed your weekend as well.


Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on October 28, 2012:

Hello Relationshipc ~ Yes, I still do have a cautionary feeling if I am driving during trick or treat time. Of course, I am nervous and don't want any kids to run out in the street. But also, it is just the atmosphere, that feeling of not being sure what is going to jump out at you. My thoughts/feelings are not at all debilitating. But they are there and they are real. I'm glad you enjoyed this article. Thanks for stopping by.


collinmoore on October 27, 2012:

Hi Sharyn, this was a great article to read. I was completely surprised that there was a difference between simply not liking Halloween, and taking it like a serious fear. Halloween is actually one of my favorite times of the year; it's the day after my birthday. While I do plan to enjoy myself on Halloween, I also hope that those who suffer with Samhainophobia stay safe. So while i'm out rocking my costumes, I hope those who are far more sensitive to the 31st find comfort at home, if they feel they're not ready to come out yet. Good luck this year.

Eiddwen from Wales on October 27, 2012:

I had never heard of this before and thank you for sharing .

Enjoy your weekend.


Kari on October 27, 2012:

So you said in one point that "If I was driving my car during that time span, I felt extremely cautious. And I always felt relieved when it was time for people to shut the porch lights off." You are speaking in past tense, so do you not have the cautionary feeling during driving anymore? And were you scared of hitting kids or just the atmosphere?

Very cool article, thanks for sharing your fear.

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on October 23, 2012:

Hi Gypsy Rose Lee ~ I don't think my fear is that intense that I would want to move. But I'm sure that stinks that you enjoy Halloween so much but really can't celebrate it like you would want to where you live. I hope you at least enjoy carving your pumpkin and watching movies :) Thanks so much for your feedback and for sharing this. And thank you for the follow too.