The darkness was swallowing the Las Vegas Strip as my first Halloween was about to commence on the night of Oct. 31, 2002. My mother helped me put on my Yoda costume because I decided Yoda was the character who had the strongest Force in the movie, which would undoubtedly get me more candy. As I prepared to leave, my escorts, Dad and Mom, quickly stepped in front of me. As is the custom, my mother preached to me, “Don’t eat any candy until we get home and check them.” It was an odd rule to me at the time, but as you grow you begin to see the purpose of all those random rules your parents implemented. Needless to say, my first Halloween went off without a hitch, and my dentist made a fortune the next time I visited him.
I’m sure many people had similar first-time Halloween experiences, but the interesting part about it is as children we were never truly living up to the Halloween tradition. Costumes and candy have been a part of the tradition since its origin, but they were used for a different purpose. According to History.com, Halloween began roughly 2,000 years ago at a festival put on by the Celtics called Samhain. The Celtics believed that on the 31st, the dead would roam the earth again. In light of this fact, they attempted to ward off the spirits by wearing costumes, most of which consisted of animal parts. They also gave out sweets as a sort of offering to the spirits so that they could protect their families. In addition, the Celtic priests, or druids, built sacred bonfires where they gathered to sacrifice animals and burn crops.
As we get older, I believe we begin living up to the original tradition Halloween was based upon. Now, we obviously don’t wear dead animal carcasses, but as we age we tend to stray away from the treating portion of trick-or-treat, finding out we oddly enjoy being scared and relish the moments that point toward unworldly experiences, usually that of the supernatural.
Granted, we aren’t attempting to ward off evil spirits, but quite the contrary: We go out of our way to find them. Although it is not what the Celtics did, we are still upholding the tradition by believing there is some ghost or spirit in our midst. This is the thrill of the modern Halloween experience for individuals 17 and up. We pay money to either scream our heads off in haunted houses or keep our cool to show our dates we’re man or woman enough.
Some may say it’s foolish to think there are ghosts, ghouls and goblins in the world, but to those naysayers I ask, “What has happened to your imagination?” Yes, we are getting older. Maturity comes with the territory, and responsibilities tend to trump interesting endeavors we’d like to find ourselves in. But life would be pretty dull if we looked at every situation with such a realist attitude. There are enough sticks in the mud on Wall Street. Think out of the box; imagine SpongeBob moving his head in a half-circle while saying “imagination” if you need to. Go about it however you see fit as long as you find a way to uphold the Celtic tradition in some way, shape or form.
Brandon Cruz studies journalism. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.