Sophia Ma/ Sage Hill School 10th grade
It’s fall, the weather is getting colder and the leaves are starting to change from green to red, yellow, and orange (outside of Southern California that is). All around the US, children (and many adults) are giddy with excitement, stocking up on candy, buying their pumpkins, and planning elaborate costumes. It’s that magical time of year: Halloween!
Before moving to the U.S., I was often curious about Halloween, all I really knew about Halloween was trick or treating. In many cartoons and movies, I had seen children walking door to door in elaborate costumes and being given candy. For free! It seemed really fun to me and I felt like it would be a great experience with new friends. But I assumed it was make believe, something only in the movies. No way did people actually wear those scary costumes on the street and walk up to strangers’ houses, and even less likely would adults prepare bowls of candy and treats to give out to anyone. From the perspective of a young child growing up in China, it seemed too unreal.
But it wasn’t.
So what is Halloween? Well, first off, even though it is a popular night in the US, it doesn’t actually originate in America. It was created by the ancient Celts in Ireland. The traditional Halloween festival is slightly different from the celebrations seen in America. The Celts believed that Halloween was a special occasion, when for one night marked the door between our world and the next was open and spirits could pass through. During that evening it became difficult to distinguish the living from the dead.
However, as the festival spread to America, it changed from a spiritual and religious tradition to a community spirit celebration. It’s an activity that people gathered around to spend time, chatting with each other, and strengthening friendships. The Halloween festival became not as scary as before, where the ancient celts celebrated, but we’ve still held on to the spirit of those passing through the doorway by dressing up as our favorite ghosts and ghouls.
After I came to America, I was able to experience my Halloween first hand. It surprised me to see the effort and hours that people poured into creating costumes and getting ready. Even my teachers were all dressed up in class. One thing I was unaware of was the tradition of carving pumpkins. Every house I walked past had a jack-o-lantern (carved pumpkin), it’s creepy grin lit up by the candle placed inside its hollowed out body. I had such a great time making friends with new people, participating in a foreign tradition, and even getting scared a little by the haunted houses in my neighborhood. And the most important thing I found to be true, people really did give out free candy!
So no matter where you live this Halloween, stock up on some candy and keep it in a bowl by your front door, you never know who will show up and scream, “Trick or Treat!”
<Sophia Ma/ Sage Hill School 10th grade