Column: The Most Spooktacular Holiday of Them All


Me in second grade​, where I played the “illustrious” square pumpkin. My homemade costume was boo-tiful, don’t you think? Image courtesy of Levin.

I am a huge fan of holidays, and quite frankly, who isn’t? From drinking a cup of ‘nog wrapped in a blanket around Christmas to listening to some Taylor Swift along with fireworks on July Fourth, holidays are a time of celebration, family (and friends!) and some much needed rest.

However, one holiday stands out from the rest as my personal favorite. Not only is it the most spooktacular of days, but it always tends to creep up on us so frighteningly quick each year (much to my pleasure).

Now, guys and ghouls, by now you are probably haunted by the desire to know just what holiday I mean. I am talking, of course, about the incredible, the wonderful: Saint Patrick’s Day (not really, I’m just spooking with you!).

My intense love of everything Stephen King and Tim Burton, my fascination with demons and paranormal activity and the thrill of getting scared makes Halloween the perfect holiday for me, but it wasn’t always this way. Before I learned to love Buzzfeed’s Unsolved” and It, Halloween was the most terrifying and horrible day imaginable.

For around three years in the autumn months, I would refuse to go shopping for fear of running into a ghost or ghoul (costumes and decorations were scary, too) and come Halloween night, I would stay locked up in my room while my brother went out and ate all the delicious candy. Granted, I was young, but I was not the only soul this day has managed to spook in the past. The festivities of Halloween have been traditional all over the world for centuries.

All Hallow’s Eve originated over 2,000 years ago with the Celtic festival of Samhain. Acting as a transition from the summer season to the cold, harsh winter, Samhain was the days in which the boundaries between the living world and the dead were removed, and Oct. 31 marked the return of spirits to earth. Although these ghosts tended to damage the crops and cause mischief, their presence made it easier for Celtic priests called Druids to ease the minds of the people with predictions of the future. Festivities included lighting bonfires, telling fortunes and dressing up in costumes of animal heads and pelts.

After Julius Caesar conquered the Celts that inhabited Gaul — modern day France — in 57 B.C., the Romans adopted the tradition of Samhain. These practices were blended with their own cultures to form Lemuria, a three day May festival.  On these days, lemures, or Roman spirits of the dead, would return to their families. Sound familiar? Although the return of lemures to earth seems similar to the ghosts of Samhain, these spirits made crop destruction and mischief seem like child’s play. Instead, lemures tortured and threatened their living family, forcing the pater familias, or the head of the house, to practice an exorcism ritual involving beans, incantations and bronze. Eventually,  lemuria faded from memory and the Romans instead attributed the day to Pomona, the Roman goddess of orchards and abundance. The goddess’ symbol is an apple and is the origin of modern day bobbing for apples during Halloween. The blend of these holidays eventually came to America through late 19th century immigrants to form the renowned holiday of Halloween, but it is celebrated quite differently today.

Americans spending an average of $86.13 per person will celebrate Halloween; that’s a whopping $9.1 billion dollars nationally each year. In addition, of the 600 million pounds of candy purchased yearly in America, 90 million pounds are purchased in the weeks leading up to Halloween. According to Insider, the most popular costumes in 2016 were Harley Quinn, the Joker (both D.C. characters), superheroes and pirates — while the  predictions for most popular Halloween costumes 2017 include Wonder Woman (D.C. again!), Belle from “Beauty and the Beast,” the kids from “Stranger Things” (I’ve seen stranger things than this costume idea), and, no surprise, Pennywise from “It” (he just has the It factor, you know?).

For more costume fun, check out the photos of Archer faculty, staff and students as children during Halloween in the photo gallery below! Now remember, my Grim Grinning Ghosts, enjoy your Halloween, but be sure to look out for ghouls and creepers who may be lurking just behind…BOO! 

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  • Tove Jegeus ’21 in an adorable spider costume. ​You could search, but ​​I doubt you’ll find a cuter spider on the web! Photo courtesy of Jegeus.

  • Four-year old Caitlin Duffy in a devilishly good costume. Duffy currently teachers math to Archer middle schoolers. Photo courtesy of Duffy.

  • Caterina Cajrati Crivelli Mesmer Nobili ’21 at one year old dressed as an angel. ​She looks so cute, her parents must have been in heaven! Photo courtesy of Cajrati Crivelli Mesmer Nobili.

  • ​Last, but not least, is English teacher Virginia Shannon posing with her pumpkin pal. ​Oh my gourd! Photo courtesy of Shannon.

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