Halloween’s Evolution From Harvest Season to Commercial Enjoyment
Boo! It’s Halloween, a time of spookiness, superstition, and celebrations, or as I often say, the older brother of Friday the 13th. It is the holiday that popularized the phrase “trick or treat,” as well as the portrayal of dark and scary arts and customs. Stemming from a tradition in North America and Asia, Halloween is observed on Oct. 31 all over the world.
According to history.com, Halloween evolved from the ancient Celtic holiday of Samhain. The Celts used the day to mark the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter, and also believed that this transition between the seasons was a bridge to the world of the dead. At the Celtic Festival of Samhain, people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts.
“It is certainly a bit too commercialized. It is strange how creepy things, characters, and attitudes can become so mainstream yet also a good way to express certain darker aspects of human life.” —Sonika Gupta, WCC Student
In the eighth century, Pope Gregory Francis designated Nov. 1 as All Saint’s Day. This day was meant to honor saints and martyrs. The night before was known as All Hallows’ Eve, or Halloween, according to history.com.
Over time, the holiday has become less about upholding the values of archaic customs and more geared towards a day of festivities, candy treats, and entertainment for children and teens. Halloween, like every other holiday, has lost some of its true purpose and businesses have not failed to capitalize on people’s willingness to break their wallets in order to go the extra mile to purchase Halloween ornaments. The modernized version of the holiday still retains its ghostly significance, much like the Celtics version of the Commemoration.
Sonika Gupta, a WCC student, expresses her positive sentiments about the impact of Halloween.
“I used to enjoy celebrating it as a kid and getting dressed up in a costume, but now I feel a bit too old to dress up,” Gupta said. “It is certainly a bit too commercialized. It is strange how creepy things,characters, and attitudes can become so mainstream yet also a good way to express certain darker aspects of human life.”
Another WCC student Kelly Riggins said Halloween was her favorite day.
“It brings me joy. I wish it was everyday,” Riggins said. “I love to see people dress up in costumes. I love to give candy to children and I love going to haunted houses.”
This is the only time of year where children are allowed to dress like their favorite superheroes or idolize their favorite rock stars without fear of being judged. Some children count down the days on their calendar until the arrival of Halloween because it brings them so much joy and thrill.
I think that as a society, we tend to complain when holidays like these become exorbitant and too extravagant, but what is that to the smile on a child’s face or a teenager who genuinely loves Halloween.
Let’s not worry about the manipulation of Halloween for financial gain. Instead, let us enjoy Halloween for what it currently symbolizes: fun and adventure.