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Halloween is a favorite holiday for college students across the country. It is a day of indulgence for all Americans, taken to a whole new level on the university party scene. But do we ever really think of the origin of Halloween while dousing ourselves with glitter, eating inhumane amounts of candy and pouring an alarming amount of shots?
Although modern America’s celebrations of Halloween are anything but holy, Halloween is thought to have its origins in Christian customs. All Hallow’s Day, on Nov. 1, is a day for remembering saints and praying for recently departed souls. This celebration can be traced back to the 1700s.
The ubiquitous costumes that Halloween fanatics adore are said to come from ancient Christian beliefs that the souls of the departed wandered the Earth all year until All Hallow’s Eve, when they had one last chance to seek revenge on their enemies. To avoid being targeted by an angry departed soul, the living would disguise themselves in costumes.
Hundreds of years later, many Christian churches discourage the celebration of Halloween, the holiday that they created.
College students in particular have really done a number on the holiday.
In general, college students view holidays as a reason to take their partying to the next level. St. Patrick’s Day, once a religious celebration of a saint, is now entirely marked by drinking to excess. Labor Day, Memorial Day, you name it. They are all used as an excuse to pop the top on a beer and let loose; the true reason for celebration is lost somewhere between the third and fourth round.
The reasoning behind the shift in how we celebrate holidays as we age has something to do with necessity. Now more than ever, college students need a respite from the daily routine and structure that we endure. We latch onto what we can in order to find a reason to shake loose of the hold of our responsibilities, looming debt and the always-terrifying future.
However, it is not necessarily disrespectful to use holidays as an excuse to party — it all depends on how you celebrate.
Halloween is the perfect way to release the tension associated with college. The basis of Halloween is loss of identity: don whatever mask or costume you please. You can be a president, a hobo, a doctor, a cat, a mouse. The typical societal rules of code and conduct don’t apply.
Drinking and college are almost synonymous, and you can count on students using any excuse they can find to drink. The important thing is that they remember why they are celebrating. Holidays like Labor Day and Memorial Day are important to our country. A moment of contemplation and meditation about what the holiday is celebrating can attach some meaning to the otherwise senseless partying.
With the holiday season approaching, it’s important to contemplate the meaning behind celebration. As college students, it’s easy to become enraptured in the campus culture and forget about what the days are actually about.
On a larger scale, all Americans should spend some time reflecting this holiday season. Instead of looking at Thanksgiving as a reason to eat, or at Christmas as a reason to drink eggnog and get gifts, it’s important to resonate with the meanings behind these holidays. By doing this, we can gain a larger appreciation for holidays, and in turn enjoy them even more than we already do.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Kim Habicht at firstname.lastname@example.org.