University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

What actually is Halloween? 

Charlie Batten

ByCharlie Batten

Nov 10, 2022

Anonymous writer

When asked by my non-British friend ‘what actually is Halloween?’ a series of responses come into my head. For some, it’s a traditional celebration that divides up Autumn and Winter. For Mean Girls fanatics, its “the one day a year when a girl can dress up like a total slut and no other girls can say anything else about it.” For health concerned parents it’s the worst time of the year where kids are encouraged to indulge and eat sugar until their teeth fall rotten. For the majority of British teens it’s a chance to get dressed up and go to the assigned ‘party house’ or local park and have a drink. But for the general population it’s just another one of those days. 

You see, Halloween doesn’t really mean the same thing for everyone, in fact, that’s the beauty of the holiday. It, like many British holidays, has disassociated from its traditional meaning, and is now just as excuse for a party. However, when growing up for many people like myself Halloween was the time of year I could relax. Not fitting the school approve mold of what you should be, i.e being a ‘weird’ kid, Halloween was a time of year where I could embrace my weirdness, in fact, it was encouraged. Halloween provided a vessel for me to live out the weird and wonderful fantasies my creative mind had conjured over the year passed. It became a time for release and expression. I think Halloween has a lot to teach children and adults alike, it’s a time where no matter what you look like, be that gruesome, sexy, ill or fantasy, Halloween is a time where all people can come together, under a unifying banner of acceptance and party together.  

For me, Halloween is the perfect microcosm of an ideal society. Bar the traditional element of warding off ghosts, Halloween encourages creativity and expression. We live in a society now days where trends, body image and fashion choices are more important to the general population, and say more about who you are, and what socially dictated category you fit into to then your internal characteristics. But on Halloween, none of these things matter. It is a sad reality of our times that many people only feel able to be free of societies tyrannical expectations and normative standards once a year. 

This is why I think Halloween is so important, as a time to remind ourselves of the importance of acceptance and difference.

If everyone turned up to a Halloween party wearing the same costume everyone would be highly disappointed. Not only because your own costume would lose its unique value – as it was the same as everyone else’s, but more so, because it would simply look and be boring. This is a lesson in life too, if we continue on the path we’re going, and everyone keeps ‘coming to the party’ the same; if we do not learn to celebrate and encourage individual difference, the world will simply become a monolithically boring place. 

So, whether it be Halloween night or not, I encourage you all to channel your spookiness this season and find, encourage and embrace your individually with and without a Halloween mask.  

Charlie Batten

By Charlie Batten

Sports Print Editor

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