By: Michael Hlopko
The season of fall welcomes many changes, be it the shift from blistering heat, to a pleasant cool in temperatures, or the beautiful color combinations of leaves changing, and the various holidays and festivities, such as Halloween.
Annually, we carve our pumpkins and place them on our front porches. We buy candy in advance, purposefully leaving some off to the side to enjoy later. We come up with unique ideas for costumes, or purchase a particularly high quality one online, perhaps one based off of current fads or cultural successes. However, it’s not often we think as to how the holiday first started.
Halloween is a particularly special holiday dating back 2,000 years ago with the Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts, who used to reside in what we now know as the United Kingdom, Ireland and northern France, celebrated the new year on the first of November.
This particular date marked the end of summer and harvest, and the beginning of a season of darkness, cold temperatures and death. It was the Celt’s belief that the night before the new year, the line between the worlds of the living and the dead would become blurred.
For this ancient holiday, people would set immense bonfires, and gather to burn animals and crops as sacrifices to Celtic deities. Throughout the celebration, the people would wear varying costumes, normally using animal heads and skins.
Fast forward to today, and our appreciation for Halloween is clearly vastly different from its origins. Sam Robinson, a SUNY Plattsburgh student, spoke about his appreciation for the holiday. “I personally enjoy the vibe of everything being scary, but also the candy that’s to be expected. The fact that everyone can dress up as something different is something I’ve also enjoyed, regardless of age.”
It should come of no surprise to anyone that Halloween is now seemingly synonymous with the word “candy,” and not for unfounded reasons. In the case of the United States, a quarter of all candy sold annually is purchased for use on Halloween.
“Generally speaking, I can appreciate the origins of Halloween, but what we have now is clearly superior,” Robinson said.