Becoming Someone (Or Something) Else For One Night
Halloween, All Hallow’s Eve, Dia De Los Muertos, Samhain- countries and cultures across the globe celebrate the end of autumn and the beginning of winter in endless ways. Often these celebrations are at the end of October or the beginning of November, and they usually have some sort of connection to the afterlife or the supernatural.
I am an American girl, and my experiences with Halloween have not extended far past the average American customs of trick-or-treating and costume parties. Even so, the traditions that my family and country take part in are something that I hold very dear to my heart. When September rolls around and my life is once again consumed by homework, school, and panicking over grades, I only have to look a few weeks into the future to find Halloween celebrations begin. My family starts off the the month of October with Halloween decorations- my front porch is covered in fake spider webs, Halloween themed stickers, and skeleton shaped lights at this very moment- and cookies- sugar flavored baked goods that are decorated with sloppy (yet delicious) icing spiders and ghosts. Tomorrow I am headed to a friend’s house to carve pumpkins and roast pumpkin seeds, and on Wednesday I will be throwing on a costume and handing out candy to all the little ghouls and vampires at my door. Halloween celebrations, to me, mean pumpkin-flavored everything; costumes, both of the last minute variety and ones that have taken months to perfect; and candy- far, far too much candy. I know that I will feel sick on the first day of November from eating too much, and I know that the pumpkins we carve this weekend will probably rot before Halloween due to the Texas heat (the black mold makes it that much scarier), and I know that the costume my sister has spent months making will be forced to the back of the closet until next year, but I don’t care, and neither does anyone else. It’s the beauty of Halloween, the one night that you can put on a costume and become whoever you want to be- an alien, a princess, a ninja, a Hogwarts student. It is one of the many reasons that October is my favorite month of the year.
Celebrating Halloween the way my family and I do is just one of the literally infinite ways to participate in end-of-October festivities. Halloween originated from a Celtic festival that dates back 3000 years, which likely merged with Roman celebrations before it was influenced by Christianity. From there it has evolved into many different celebrations and holidays. Although Americans generally do not celebrate the religious aspects of Halloween, the idea that the living and the dead come together on this night is one that is still widely accepted in other versions of the holiday (and one that I find beautiful). I think the rich history of Halloween and the varied cultures that participate in it is one thing that makes Halloween so unique.
And so now I have a question for readers: How do you celebrate Halloween? Do you call it by a different name, do you have different traditions or beliefs? How has your culture impacted the way you celebrate this holiday?
And of course, the most important of all- how many times have you dressed as a Harry Potter character for Halloween? (My answer: 4)