Pagan Ritual Has Modern Resonance


Photo by: Rhiannan Ruef

The junior class group of “Safari” or “Poachers” won the class competition during the Halloween fashion show at lunch.

Cam High’s campus transformed into a dwelling ground for pumpkins, angels, and dinosaurs alike in the name of the age-old American holiday Halloween. But what exactly is Halloween?

“All Hallow’s Eve”, as it was once known, originated during the Middle Ages and traces back to the ancient Ireland festival called Samhain.

Samhain was a festival in honor of the dead and celebrated the end of the harvest season while simultaneously preparing for the upcoming winter. The festival consisted of killing off livestock and preparing food as well as performing bonfire rituals.

Some 15th century Samhain practices and superstitions, such as dressing up in costumes and believing the dead would come back alive on Halloween, continue to exist today in adapted forms.

Traditionally, Halloween costumes were used to ward of evil spirits or satisfy spirits by wearing scary masks and or outfits. Now, however, Halloween costumes themselves are what sets the holiday apart, rather than celebrating and worshiping the underworld.

According to many Cam High students, Halloween remains a beloved holiday even in high school. “I love the fact that older students still carry on the tradition,” said Shing Ou, sophomore, who dressed up as Spiderman this year.

“You get to express yourself in your own personal way without being judged,” said Jonathan Chhang, junior. Chhang impersonated Bruce Lee with his own martial art twist. “It’s like an American melting pot of different fashions. styles, etc.”

Costumes contending for the class cup contest ranged from superheros to safari hunters to ballerinas.
Photo by: Rhiannan Ruef
Costumes contending for the class cup contest ranged from superheros to safari hunters to ballerinas.

“My general thoughts on Halloween are that the true meaning of Halloween is lost. No one actually dresses to scare away spirits anymore,” said Chhang. “But I like the new meaning of Halloween more. It’s a fun way to make people go out and have fun.”