Home2017-2018This is Halloween, dig up the history of Halloween’s stories past

This is Halloween, dig up the history of Halloween’s stories past

By Emma Giron
Staff Writer

Oct. 31, otherwise known as All Hallows’ Eve, All Saints’ Day or Halloween, is celebrated in the U.S. as a spooky themed holiday where children dress up in scary costumes and go door to door trick-or-treating. However, there is more to this holiday than what we see through our contemporary lens. The origins of Halloween are not commonly published in magazine advertisements, store decorations or TV programs when promoting the festivities. Comparing the origins of the holiday to today’s  interpretation is baffling. Below are some of the origins of the holiday and how it has changed in our society over time.

 

History of Halloween

Recognized on the Christian calendar, the holiday usually revolves around prayers, a brief period of fasting and is followed by a grand feast. Halloween was not popularized in North America until Irish and Scottish immigrants introduced it in the 19th century. Modern Halloween is most closely related to Samhain, the Gaelic harvest festivity that marked the beginning of winter. Here is some of the history behind the famous symbols most people tend to identify with Halloween.

 

Jack-O-Lantern

Also referred to as “Jack of the Lantern,” this tradition originated from Irish folklore and was alos practiced in Scotland. A troublesome local name Jack was supposedly rejected from both Heaven and Hell, leaving his spirit condemned to the earth forever. To light his way on earth, he lit a candle inside of a turnip. This frightened the townspeople and they responded by carving frightening faces in pumpkins to keep Jack away from their doorsteps.

 

Witches

Accused of practicing black magic, the witch has been a part of European and American culture dating back to the Middle Ages, and coming up repeatedly in Shakespearean literature. People were so afraid of witches that those suspected of witchcraft were tried and executed by public hanging. One of the most infamous witch trials was the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 in Massachusetts.

 

Ghosts

A part of the Samhain festivities included celebrating those who had passed away. The events were also referred to as the “festival of the dead.” On this night specifically, the realm between the afterlife and the living blurred, giving the dead an opportunity to return to earth in the form of ghosts. This belief also enhances the spookiness of graveyards and haunted houses, which are ideal locations for ghosts to appear.  

 

Costumes

Knowing even a tiny bit of history makes contemporary costumes almost amusing. However, a lot of people see this as the season to use imagination and creativity to form the perfect costume. Many children dress up as ghosts, witches and pumpkins, but with costume parties and competitions the bar is sometimes set fairly high to have the most innovative outfit. Celebrities will often try and outdo each other to gain the most publicity. Here are some memorable celebrity Halloween costumes:

Most fans  wait in anticipation for celebrities such as Beyoncé to make a statement with her costume coordination. In 2016, Beyoncé, JAY-Z and Blue Ivy went as Barbie and Ken. They also went as Janet and Michael Jackson in 2014.

Other celebrity costumes include  Rihanna as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (2014) and Evan Rachel Wood as Magenta from the Rocky Horror Picture Show (2010).

However, some celebrity costumes are remembered for their infamous appearances. In 2016, Hillary Duff and her boyfriend were heavily criticized on social media for dressing up as a Pilgrim (Duff) and a Native American chief (Walsh). The couple later apologized saying “we were stupidly unaware of the offense this may have caused and the sensitivity around this issue. We sincerely and unreservedly apologize to all First Nations people for this thoughtless action.” This was the same year that the Dakota Access Pipeline received permit approval.

Some celebrities play it safe and go as the classics, such as Kim Kardashian as a skeleton (2014).

 

DIY Costumes

If you don’t have the time to put together an elaborate costume, here are some last minute ideas:

 

Mary Poppins

All you need is a dark skirt, a blazer, a white button-down, a red ribbon as a bow tie and an umbrella.

 

Waldo from Where’s Waldo?

Only requires a red-and-white striped long sleeve shirt, red beanie and some glasses.

 

Power Rangers Character

Wear black on the bottom and your color of choice on top. Paint or tape construction paper onto your bike helmet and you are set to go.

 

Halloween Masks

Get together with your friends and make your own Halloween masks. If you live in the dorms, ask your RA for art supplies!

 

egiron@willamette.edu

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