Halloween is just around the pumpkin patch


Photo by Dan Stainer

People in costumer in Tallahassee circa 1966

Romaura Rojas, Contributing Writer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Celtic day that has survived through the ages.

Halloween is a time of many things: pumpkin carving, haunted houses, and trick-or-treating. But where did it all begin?

The Celts, an ancient European culture from the areas of today’s Ireland and Great Britain, believed that at the change of the season, the human and spiritual worlds merged. They marked this occasion with the festival Samhain.

According to History.com, this belief came from the cold weather and how the chill killed living things such as plants and people. The Celts would light fires and burn crops and animals as sacrifices, wearing costumes as they told each other’s fortunes.

This shift in season was not only recognized by the Celts. By A.D. 43, the Roman Empire had conquered most Celtic territory. Their own festivals to acknowledge the dead then merged with the Celtic Samhain. Through them came the name “All Souls’ Day,” the day after what we call Halloween. This date was established in A.D. 1,000, and from there the night before the festival began to be called ‘All Hallows Eve,’ what we know today as Halloween.

This tradition moved from Europe to the U.S. at the end of the 19th century. The occurrence was changed, an influx of Irish citizens working to popularize the holiday. Even though the occasion began centuries ago, there are similarities with modern practices.

Halloween has not always been celebrated by intentionally scaring people, but today the past fears of the spirit world shifted to a make-believe fear of them. Haunted Houses pop up every time October rolls around, Universal Orlando standing out amongst them with its ‘Halloween Horror Nights’ event. The park is transformed into a haunted community, students on campus lining up to get tickets for the experience.

“People were lined up at 9:30 a.m. on the second day of buying tickets,” said Magyanis Ruiz, a senior at Jacksonville University and the Diversity Coordinator for Dolphin Productions. “We started selling at 11 a.m.”

Dolphin Productions sold a total of 90 tickets for Halloween Horror Nights, a waitlist begun for those who were too late. Kimberly Brostek, a junior at Jacksonville University and past attendee of the event, enjoyed getting the opportunity to buy a discounted ticket.

“If it’s your first time going, buy a ticket on campus,” said Brostek. “Getting to go into the haunted houses was the best part of the night, the costumes were very scary and realistic.”

According to the History website, the practice of dressing up began with the Celts. They believed that by wearing masks they would be able to hide amongst the dead, and by doing this they would be safe from the spirit world.

To add another layer of safety the Celts would also leave out food on their porch for wandering spirits. They believed that by doing this they would appease the ghosts, a practice which is seen today through trick-or-treating.

Halloween is now a commercial holiday, stores popping up during the season to sell things such as costumes and decorations. It is a time of celebration, death no longer the main reason for parties and festivals. The holiday has become a reason to gather in communities all over the U.S. and into the campus.

Linda Christoffersen, the Honors Administrative Coordinator for Jacksonville University, works to keep the spirit of Halloween alive. She has been celebrating the holiday her entire life, and every Oct. 31 she holds a Halloween party at her house and invites those in the Jacksonville University Honors program to attend.

“I brought it here because you miss it,” said Christoffersen. “You’re not at home anymore, so you got to have some of the holiday spirit here.”