The essence of Halloween is alive and well throughout the halls of Conestoga College. A survey of 25 students was done to see if the spooky holiday still remained an interest after childhood. The results concluded that 92 per cent of students still participate in what some consider the most superstitious and eerie holiday of the year.
Halloween originated over 2,000 years ago, from an ancient Celtic festival called Samhain. Nov. 1 marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. It was believed that in the dark night of Oct. 31, the veils between the living and the dead would be raised, letting spirits walk on earth again. To commemorate the evening the Celtics would have large bonfires while masked in costumes.
Today’s traditions have changed since the early years of All Hallows’ Eve, as it was originally referred to. First-year business administration management student, Scott Patterson, said the holiday has become an excuse for kids to eat candy and college students to party.
“I don’t see any particular real value in it. Christmas is about giving and being generous to people, Halloween is just getting into a costume and giving out candy,” Patterson said. “At some point there was a value to it … but that’s not anywhere near what it is today.”
Though the holiday has evolved, some traditions have stayed true. During All Hallows’ Eve, children began dressing in costume and walking to neighbours’ houses asking for money or food. They would carry a carved out turnip as a lantern. Today this is commonly known as trick-or-treating, and the hollowed out turnip has transformed into a jack-o’-lantern.
It has been commonly said that Halloween is a child’s holiday and, according to Statistics Canada, in 2012 over three million children ages five to 14, trick-or-treated for delicious sugary snacks. In comparison only 20 per cent of surveyed Conestoga students said they still continue with the tradition as an adult.
Instead, many have found new ways to participate. Whether it’s heading out for a night on the town, themed parties or just dressing up to hand out candy, adults are taking back the night.
Patti Hicks, manager of Kitchener’s Spirit Halloween, said people of all ages come in to get Halloween supplies, costumes or effects.
“A lot of adults come in and buy decorations and even costumes to go to parties. Students as well come in to dress up and have fun … it’s (a holiday) for everyone,” she said.
Spirit Halloween is a store only open in the fall and is dedicated purely to Halloween supplies, which has proven to be quite a lucrative business. They’re not the only ones reaping the benefits. Statistics Canada reported that in October 2011 more than $355 million of candy, confectionaries and snacks were sold at large retailers. This was $79 million more than average monthly sales.
It’s not just a season for candy makers, costume stores or pumpkin farmers to have sweet sales, many other industries thrive during Halloween. Second-year visual merchandising student, Sable Martino, believes it’s also a time for people to get artistic.
“A lot of merchandisers make such a profit on Halloween … it’s their big holiday for creativity,” Martino said.
More than half of the students surveyed said they wait until a week before Halloween or even less to get their costumes in order. However, the best advice is to do it way in advance before all the best ones are gone.