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Opinion

Advice, tips for fun, safe Halloween weekend

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October 28, 2011

It’s that time of year again: the leaves are falling, the air is getting colder every day, college students are studying for their midterms, and you start noticing those pumpkins staring at you with their triangle eyes and peculiar grins. That’s right, it’s almost Halloween!

Where does the word “Halloween” come from? The word first appeared in 1556, referring to “All-Hallows-Eve,” which is the night before “All-Hallows-Day,” also referred to as “All Saints’ Day.” This day was principally reserved for the Catholic Church, in which the deceased are commemorated.

As a child, all of us went trick-or-treating, but we were perhaps uneducated on where exactly this activity came from. In fact, it dates all the way back to the Middle Ages. It resembles the medieval practice of “souling,” which is when people would go door to door on All Saints’ Day to receive food in return for prayers of the dead. This tradition originated in Ireland and Britain, though similar traditions could be found as far south as Italy.

In Scotland, instead of trick-or-treating, the act of “guising” is still practiced. Instead of saying “trick-or-treat” (“trick” meaning that the child performs some sort of threat to the homeowner if no treat is given), the child performs a trick, like a song or a ghost story, to earn their treat.

Whether the child is trick-or-treating or guising, it is a tradition to dress up in a costume. Dressing up and going “guising” became popular in Scotland starting in the 19th century. The tradition of wearing costumes on Halloween reached the United States by the 20th century, and mass produced costumes that you find today appeared in stores in the 1930s. According with All Saints’ Day, these costumes typically modeled supernatural figures such as monsters, ghosts, skeletons, witches or devils.

Halloween may be on a Monday this year, but that is no reason to not get into the Halloween spirit! At a loss of how to celebrate this spooky holiday? That is why I have compiled a list of fun Halloween activities that everyone can enjoy, even in college:

  • Have a scary movie marathon with your friends.
  • Go trick-or-treating! You are never too old for candy.
  • Decorate your house, dorm room, etc.
  • Play the “Monster Mash” over and over again.
  • Dress up!
  • Hand out candy to little kids… and your friends down the hall.
  • Visit a haunted house.
  • Eat traditional Halloween food (caramel apples, pumpkin pie, candy corn, etc.)
  • Decorate a pumpkin.
  • Go on a scavenger hunt.

I encourage you to take a break from studying and get into the Halloween spirit! There is so much to do on this holiday and what fun would it be if you did not celebrate it? Even if you are like me and you are not big into the scary haunted houses and being chased by creepy zombies, there are still plenty of activities to keep you entertained. You are never too old to get away from all the stresses of life on this one day and have some fun.

Cristin Dempsey is an English major and music minor from Eagan, Minn. She enjoys writing, playing the flute and swimming. After college she would like to pursue a career as an editor.