As the time draws near, more and more people ask me “Do you guys celebrate Halloween in Ireland?” as though it’s an American holiday. It’s not! It’s an Irish holiday, or, rather has its origins on the old Emerald Isle, thank you very much.
Halloween is based on an ancient druid festival called Samhain, when the boundary between our world and the spirit world is supposed to be at its thinnest. At Samhain, the spirits of the dead were meant to come and hang out with their loved ones, but as the veil between the worlds was so fragile, people also had to be careful of the evil spirits that could just as easily come a-callin’. We wear costumes and masks so that the evil spirits can’t recognise us and won’t call us to the Otherworld before our time. The whole trick-or-treating thing comes from people offering up fruit and nuts to the wandering spirits, too. Fruit and nuts, guys, fruit and nuts. Leave it to America to bastardise the ancient festival in an excuse to be scantily clad and gorge on candy. Not that it isn’t fun.
I have to admit, I am apprehensive about Halloween in I.V. I was really excited at first but to be honest with you, after all the hype it’s received, I’m kind of more intimidated now. I mean, I don’t know about you guys but I don’t relish the idea of being shunted around in a crowd and stepping in pools of vomit. That’s what people are making it sound like, despite still heralding it as ‘the most fun, like, ever.’ I guess I’m a bit cynical. That’s not to say that I don’t fully have several costumes and a handle of Kirkland vodka in my room, because I do. I just really hope no one falls off the cliffs. I get that it’s a charming view and all but, if we’re putting roadblocks in anyway, why not add some temporary fences?
I must say this for American Halloween, though: it’s pretty fun. I mean, I kind of resent being charged 10 dollars for my pumpkin, but I’m all for the festivity, and going to the pumpkin patch and getting lost in a legit maze of corn is worth the price. Plus you get to do cute things like drink pumpkin spice lattes, even if they are gross.
These days in Ireland, the celebration has been modernised and capitalised on as a Hallmark holiday and the festivities are fairly similar to the American ones. But the one major difference is that we’ve kept the idea that you’re meant to dress up as something frightening … and as frightening as the sight of me in my underpants might be, that’s not really the kind of frightening we go for. You know: ghosts, zombies, witches, vampires and the like. That’s Halloween. And you know what, I kind of prefer it that way. I hate hearing the “Mean Girls” excuse that Halloween is “the one day of the year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it,” because you should be able to dress how you want all year round and not be slut-shamed. Women’s rights, y’all. So Halloween should be the time you get to have fun with costumes and fake blood and coloured contacts and such. But since I’m here, I guess I’ll embrace your traditions, so if you see an Irish jellyfish out and about, feel free to say hi! Unless you’re an evil spirit trying to drag me away to the Otherworld, of course.
Naomi Rea is the one girl at UCSB that doesn’t like Pumpkin Spiced Lattes.
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