Shiralkar: Spooky season from the outside


Iowa State Daily

A pair of Jack-O’-Lanterns sit on a porch in Copper Beech, lighting up the night as Halloween quickly approaches.

Parth Shiralkar

I knew very little about Halloween in my first year in the United States. I spent last year’s Halloween watching a horror movie and eating ice cream. This year, I went to a friend’s Halloween party, and it was wonderful. Of course, she had made it clear that costumes were welcome.

Since it is evident that I had no idea what and why spooky season is, I did some reading. Apparently this tradition goes back to very old times and comes from a Celtic tradition called All Saints Day. Everything from the costumes to the candy to the pumpkins. Trick-or-treating is derivative of the times when poor folks used to go begging on Hallowmas, Nov. 1.

In college, Halloween is a period of fun and shenanigans and spooky season time. Communities — both online and offline — partake in huge themed celebrations. There are skulls everywhere. I personally have seen dozens of toy (but very realistic) skeletons hanging from porches or chilling with a six-pack in someone’s yard. I nearly walked up to bump fists with one.

This spooky season is fascinating to me as someone who has never been exposed to such traditions in real life. All of my knowledge came from pop culture and media. But here, as I am in the very midst of the celebrations, I like to think that spooky season is probably one of the most fun parts of the fall semester. Sure, grades are also scary, but I mean in a broader sense that Halloween is fun. My favorite jump-scare is a Canvas notification for the midterm grade update.

The whole jack-o’-lantern routine is also something I find very interesting. The general consensus is that the carving of the pumpkin is done to prevent ghouls and other evil spirits from entering the house. This article does an excellent job of detailing the actions and history of pumpkin-carving. I had hung up a mini-scarecrow on the door of my apartment. I also remember putting up a toy bat, but I cannot seem to find it. Maybe Stingy Jack came by when I was out buying groceries.

In the fall, when everything is in shades of brown and orange and yellow and bright, I think Halloween is a wonderful time to relax and maybe watch a horror movie while eating ice cream. Maybe go to a party or two.

Again, it is truly amazing how rich these traditions are. I am grateful to be part of a community of such welcoming people. I hope to get done with carving a pumpkin myself before Christmas. Meanwhile, have fun with your costumes. Happy Halloween!