From past to present: Halloween celebrations remain safe despite health precautions

by Audrey Roberts/Staff Writer

Photo Caption: Halloween pumpkins are displayed festively by the front door. Photo by Audrey Roberts

Halloween is a worldwide celebrated holiday.  However, it didn’t start out as a holiday for candy and scares.  Furthermore, with a worldwide pandemic raging across the globe, will it be as it was last year this time around?

Halloween has always been celebrated on the October 31.  It began with an ancient Celtic festival called Samhain where people would light huge bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts.  Because the Celtic people celebrated the new year on November 1, they believed that the day before, October 31, was a day when the line between the living and the deceased was blurred.  With that ideology, they also believed the dead would come back to life on that night.

The Celts celebrated Samhain by having their priests, Druids, light bonfires for the people to make offerings and sacrifices of grain and livestock.  Then, they would put on their costumes, hoping to ward off the ghosts and ghouls that had come back to haunt them.  They also attempted to tell each others’ fortunes for the new year.

However, when the Romans took over the Celtic land, they combined the Celtic festival Samhain with their own celebration, Feralia.  Feralia was also known as the Passing of the Dead Festival.  Then, Christianity reached the Celtic lands and this holiday became known as All Hallows Eve, and then, Halloween.

When the United States were formed, the first forms of celebration for Halloween were play parties.  During these parties, people would dance, tell each other’s fortunes, share stories of the dead, and sing.  Then, borrowing from European traditions, the U.S. began dressing up and going from house to house to ask for money and food, though it was mostly for the poor and middle classes.

In the late 1800s, a move was made in the U.S. to make Halloween more about neighborly get-togethers and less about witches, ghouls, and pranks.  Newspapers and community leaders began to urge parents to take away the frightening parts of Halloween, causing Halloween to lose most of the religion and supernatural tones behind it.  From the 1920s to the 1950s, trick or treating was picked back up, but candy and other sweets were the common hand-outs.

With time, Halloween became what most kids know today: a holiday for dressing up and loading up on candy.  However, with Halloween parties adapting, many organizations took on projects to create Halloween events every year.  The Indianapolis Zoo and the Indianapolis Children’s Museum are both known to have Halloween events.

Unfortunately, with Covid-19 spreading across the world, many things in the world are changing and Halloween might just be one of them.  The CDC has continued to put out guidelines to keep everyone safe during the pandemic.  With Halloween, they have not slacked.

The CDC suggests keeping to their main guidelines: wash hands, social distance, and wear a mask.  While they don’t support costume parties, haunted houses, hayrides, or trick or treating, they know that many people will proceed with their Halloween traditions.

For trick or treating, the CDC suggests leaving goody bags with candy out at the front of yards so as to continue social distancing while still giving kids the chance to go around and trick or treat.  They also suggest getting creative with Halloween costumes and finding costumes that would incorporate masks into the theme.  Another fun solution to wearing masks is to find Halloween-themed masks to continue the festive atmosphere.

To deal with Covid-19 and continue following safety guidelines, many organizations have changed their Halloween events to continue social distancing, mask wearing, and safety altogether.  The Indianapolis Children’s Museum regretfully forewent their usual haunted house and have instead decided to hold Monster MASKarades every weekend.  However, they have limited the amount of guests allowed to their outside event, and tickets must be bought to enter.

Luckily, with a few modifications, the Indianapolis Zoo has decided to continue their annual tradition of trick or treating for the kids.  While children of all ages can still come to trick or treat, the walkways are now one-way traffic only and everyone 3 years old and older are required to wear a mask.  Furthermore, the stations have been spread out so as to hopefully distance everyone and reservations are required to get into the Zoo.

But the Indianapolis Zoo isn’t the only one hoping to keep their beloved tradition.  Bella Turner, 9, says, “My neighborhood still allows trick or treating and we still plan to decorate our house for Halloween.”  Considering Halloween a reason to scare people, Bella Turner is excited to find that people will still be trick or treating.

Molly Ferguson, also 9, is also excited about trick or treating, saying that her sweet tooth makes trick or treating with her friends her favorite part of Halloween.  While Ferguson usually makes Halloween cookies at her mom’s house, Bella Turner tends to watch slightly scary movies with her two younger sisters.  Both enjoy Halloween, though their traditions are different.

While Covid-19 has changed many things for 2020 and quite a few events and places have been ended or postponed, many students at GCHS are glad to find Halloween is not one of them.  With a pandemic changing Halloween in small ways across the country, it can truly just be considered another way Halloween is adapting.  From a celebration to ward off the dead, to going around a neighborhood asking for candy, and now with costumes that include mask accessories, Halloween and the people that celebrate it are accommodating to fit the year of 2020.


Background Information:

Indianapolis Children’s Museum’s Halloween Plans

Indianapolis Zoo’s Halloween Plans

CDC Halloween Safety Suggestions