Halloween! Best holiday of the year

By Nick Milano

I have often heard it said that Halloween is not a holiday; it is merely a product of corporations who wish to prey on the consumer culture so embedded in our society. While some elements of this may be true – the History Channel says it is one of the most profitable holidays every year – there is much more to the ritual of Halloween than the big bad merchants out to get us. Even if it were, who cares? Halloween, at UMass of all places, is a treat, probably one of the funniest nights of the year. Halloween has no peers at the top of the holiday ranking systems.

Rooted in the practices of the Celts of Ireland, United Kingdom and France, Halloween has gone through hundreds of years of evolution before becoming what we recognize as a night of revelry, trick-or-treating and candy. Halloween was first the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in, typical of Celtic languages in that it makes no sense). Samhain was when the season life and the harvest of summer meet the season of death – humans most closely associated winter as the season of death. It was no different from the Celts whose priests, the Druids, used the night to make predictions about the future. Bonfires were built and costumes were worn by the Celts, usually made from animal heads and skins, and they tried to tell each other’s future, according to the History Channel. Since then, the Romans fused Samhain with two of their own holidays. Christian influences were soon to follow, and Pope Boniface declared All Saint’s Day to be Nov. 1, and the day before became known as All Hallow’s Eve.

With an enchanting history like that, how can Halloween be rivaled? The religious overtones of Easter and Christmas are two holiest of days of the year knock much off their luster. Though the night before Easter (Feaster to my family) is a traditional night to party, the mood is dampened by the realization that the next day is the holiest of the year, with Church and stiff family parties to attend. Christmas is a beautiful holiday marked by the ultimate family party, great food and presents, but the meaning of Christmas – Christ’s birth – has unfortunately been altered by consumer society. Thanksgiving is glorious. There is no debating that, but the amount of time spent recovering from the night before by attending subzero football games muddies its joy – until food is served anyway.

When Halloween is compared to these holidays and any of the others, it takes the cake decidedly. On what other holiday do you have an excuse to dress like an idiot and be complimented on your attire? On what other holiday do you have an excuse to run around egging people, acting like the teenage punk you are (a West Roxbury tradition)?

UMass Halloween ups the ante considerably, however. For the first two Halloweens of my college career, I traveled to upstate New York to visit two of my best friends from high school. Though both Skidmore and Cornell were a blast; each time I got home to friends lamenting the fact that I was not here for Halloween. Those of us at UMass last year remember Halloween fondly. Though there were too many Sarah Palins (I think we had three at our party), the costumes were still impressive. There were four Teletubbies and then later in the night a different Laa-Laa showed up on its own. Most importantly, when else can girls walk around in little to no clothing and be perfectly fine?

From a hilarious time at a dance at Skidmore, to the greatest costume ever and the only good frat party I have ever been too at Cornell to last year’s epic three day fiesta of a weekend at UMass, there is no longer any doubt that Halloween is the most fun of the holidays. It provides an excuse to spend hours cutting up Keystone Light 30 racks to make a full suit of armor and going out dressed absurdly for three nights in a row. With this year’s Thursday, Friday and Saturday lineup, let the goodtimes roll. It has evolved from the Celt’s dressing up and predicting futures, it has survived attempts by popes to make it overly religious and has become the best party night of the year. Here’s to Halloween.

Nick Milano is a Collegian columnist.  He can be reached at [email protected].