Halloween Costumes Get You Drunk(er)!

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Sorta transcript:

Saturday is Halloween! As an adult woman, that means it’s time for me to pick a sexy costume to wear, like sexy cat, sexy pizza rat, sexy toilet brush, or sexy saxophone. Once I’ve chosen my sexy costume, it will be time to party.

I’ve recently learned that I’m going to have to be really careful, though, because multiple studies show that Halloween costumes get you drunk. Really! Research on college students shows that their blood alcohol levels rise on holidays, and then on this specific holiday their blood alcohol levels rise even more if they happen to be wearing a costume. And because I like to spend a lot of time really thinking through and building my sexy costume of choice, I’m in even more danger, because the research shows that the more energy the students spent on their costumes, the drunker they got. And women in these situations tended to get drunker than men.

I was shocked to learn that caring about your Halloween costume could spontaneously result in drunkenness, but who am I to argue with the data? I definitely won’t be driving anywhere this year, regardless of whether or not I drink.

OK, obviously this is a really clear problem of correlation and causation. Halloween costumes don’t get you drunk — there’s something else going on. The leading speculation seems to be that we drink more when we think we have a good reason to celebrate, and making and wearing a costume invests us more in that celebration. And women tended to get drunker than men simply because more women dressed up, thus more women were highly invested in the celebration.

Here’s another fun bit of Halloween research I recently learned thanks to Sociological Images: unscheduled births, meaning not planned c-sections or induced labor, tend to significantly decrease on Halloween, and significantly increase on Valentine’s Day. In other words, pregnant women have some amount of conscious or unconscious control over when they give birth. And apparently, a not insignificant plurality of women find it desirable to be born on a day devoted to love and hearts and undesirable to be born on a day devoted to death and ghosts. These women are wrong, obviously. If I were pregnant and due to give birth around Valentine’s Day, a crass holiday based on commercialization, I’d definitely try to hold that sucker in until the vastly superior holiday of Halloween, day of awesome costumes and scary TV specials. And if I couldn’t make it an extra 8.5 months, I’d at least hold it in until February 15th, guaranteeing significant savings on every future birthday when I would get all the kids’ candy for half off.

Anyway, if you’re not pregnant and you do plan to drink this weekend, be careful out there! And if you’re wearing a costume you worked hard on, maybe just remember that drinking a soda in between martinis will help stop you from vomiting all over that hard work.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon mstdn.social/@rebeccawatson Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky @rebeccawatson.bsky.social

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  1. I think I skipped the whole party-Halloween stage. I think I went right from trick-or-treater to candy supplier.

    My greatest sadness was when the kids started to recognize my 4th Doctor costume as Harry Potter (because of similar scarves I suppose. I don’t remember Harry having curly locks or a brown trenchcoat or a brown paper bag of jelly babies.)

  2. While we’re talking about Halloween, I’m disappointed with the lack of debunking of the urban legend that animals disappear more often around Halloween. (They really disappear more often around the Fourth of July and Chinese New Year. tl;dr: Explosions scare anything with sensitive hearing.)

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