I hate Halloween. I try not to hate things, but time and again, Halloween has been a disappointing holiday. My best memories being preserved in childhood, I have disliked Halloween ever since I became too old to trick-or-treat. I tried to explain recently why I hate it, and realized that my main reason – that it is an empty commercialized American holiday – did not hold up. Overwhelmed by candy commercials and Halloween costume shops, I forgot that Halloween has been celebrated for centuries. I forgot that it is all about death and the supernatural. While most teenagers and university students use Halloween costumes as a time to ‘slut it up’ or show their wit in cultural references – ‘Netflix and Chill’ is my personal favorite from this year – Halloween was originally a Celtic festival called Samhain that marked the beginning of winter. It was the day that the Celts believed the souls of those who had died that year traveled to the otherworld; it was the day that the ghosts and supernatural were most able to communicate with those living on earth. It still is the day, but overtime, I feel this origin has been displaced.
All of the traditions of our modern Halloween, trick-or-treating, carving jack o’ lanterns, and even wearing costumes originated from the Celtic traditions. Celebrating and remembering the dead and the supernatural, is not only a Western holiday, but celebrated all over the world – Dia de los Muertos in Mexico, Oban Festival in Japan, the Odo Festival in Nigeria, and others.
Studying at St. Andrews, Halloween is devotedly celebrated. As we have lots of Americans, there are parties, pumpkins, and festivities, however, I have heard this is not the case in the rest of the United Kingdom. Despite Halloween originally being a Celtic tradition, it has been stolen by the Americans. The immigrants that moved to America in the 1800s and onwards, especially the Irish who fled during the potato famine, brought with them their Halloween tradition. In America, Halloween was centred around community, and in the 1950s, political leaders changed it as a holiday for the youth to limit vandalism. Now in the 2010s, Halloween is a reason to party and to express your sexuality.
I miss the Halloween from my childhood. The whole neighborhood would be out, we would eat chili and macaroni and cheese, and go around filling our pillow cases with candy. I miss the sense of community. This Halloween was another disappointment, as I focused on the party, and forgot tradition. Next year, I hope to remember it, and not just by drinking a pumpkin spice latte.
Featured Image: Ilaria Maresi
Originally published on The Tribe.