Halloween Celebrations

Saahithi Gaddipati, Staff Writer

Halloween holds a beloved place in many hearts; the annual tradition of candy distribution takes the title of favorite holiday for millions. The editors of History.com explain that Halloween was originally Samhain, a Celtic ghost-banishing holiday. However, under the vision of Pope Gregory III, Christian and Celtic culture merged together, transforming into All Souls’ Day, or All Hallows Eve, a day to honor the dead while building bonfires and dressing up as religious deities. As the holiday spread, it grew further from solemn ghost banishing and closer to the festive night we celebrate today — or rather last year. 2020 has been nightmarish for most, the pandemic altering many of Halloween’s usual activities.

Senior Jonah Foss voiced his opinion on the changes Halloween has faced, saying, “It’s just a change. I think it may change the way you celebrate it. The core values of the holiday don’t change, and for Halloween, that’s spookiness and mysterious. If anything, it means more to me, because this Halloween, I got to see people be creative and celebrate.” Sophomore Vibha Shivarajan differed with this opinion, stating, “It sucks that Halloween this year was basically cancelled, because it was a Saturday night, so if it was a normal year, you would’ve been able to stay out later, and it was a blue moon so it was extra spooky, and I’ll be somewhere in my twenties before that happens again.” However, both students agree that there was a good cause behind the lack of normal Halloween festivities.

Although the consensus among students is that the reason behind the cancellation was a good one, students chose to deal with it in different ways, Senior Emily Palm stating, “I think that there is a right way to [celebrate Halloween], because I think it’s important to give kids a traditional and normal childhood, but in a very safe way.” Many IHS students agree with this, choosing to scale down social events or forgo them altogether, a popular modification being spending Halloween evening with a couple of your closest friends. Shivarajan explained how she spent Halloween night with her friends: “[They] had all been quarantined for about two weeks before this, so [they] considered it safe.” Foss had a similar approach, choosing to “[give] out candy to his neighbors and keep it local,” opting to watch a movie with his family and immediate neighbors.

Freshman Riva Naidu stood apart from this approach, having a “no-contact candy exchange with [her] friends, then Zoom call[ing] each other later.” While these three students have all celebrated Halloween, others like sophomore John Johnson decided to spend the day at home. “Unlike previous years we didn’t buy any candy this year, because we didn’t think there would be any trick or treaters, and there weren’t,” he stated. 

Many people feel the same way as Johnson, with freshman Krish Kannan saying, “We didn’t hand out candy because we were too busy, and we didn’t think anyone would come.” There has been a noticeable loss in Halloween excitement. Palm, narrating how she forgot that Halloween was coming, pulling up a last-minute costume, said, “I wore a random jacket I had and a hat, and then I said I was a snow bunny. Like, that is not a real costume. In the past, I’ve saved up to buy a really good costume, but I was like, I’m not hanging out with people, I’m not taking pictures, or am around anyone other than these two other people, so there’s no people to impress or show off to.”

However, junior Alex Langele felt that “there were still definitely people who went all out this year. One of my neighbors projected their house with dancing skeletons and hung up decorations on the roof.” Foss was one such person, deciding to dress up for the first time in years. “I was the character in Among Us. I wore a sweatshirt, turned it around, pulled it over my face, and then stretched a mask across.” 

In an effort to keep trick-or-treating alive, students placed candy outside. Shivarajan saidillustrates, “We made cookies and then put them in little brown bags, which we decorated. Then we left them on a table outside so that people could just grab them and go.” For Shivarajan, this idea came to her after she saw all the other candy bags when she was taking a stroll around the neighborhood. Others like Palm got the idea from social media. “I’m on the Highlands mom’s Facebook Page, and they posted how they set up a shoot and there would be buttons that would be pressed and then candy would slide out of a chute. It was really complicated, and not something I could do, so I just put out bags of candy outside,” she says.

While this Halloween may not have been the best, or most impactful, it was the most creative, as students found ways to celebrate safely, even with the ongoing restrictions. “It was nice to see that at least some things were consistent,” Palm states. “I still spent Halloween with my closest friends, and it was nice to see that the tradition didn’t change.” This October, we witnessed people fighting to keep the Halloween spirit alive, making the most of an otherwise dark time.