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Editorial: How Old is Too Old for Halloween

Halloween approaches fast, just in time for some potential snow as the last vestiges of warm weather disappear. Downtown Vermillion will host a trick-or-treat for kids in the afternoon, but what about us? Are we too old to celebrate Halloween? 

To answer this question, we need to understand the history of Halloween.

Many believe Halloween’s origins come from the Celtic pagan festival of Samhain, which marks the end of harvesting, the beginning of winter and the beginning of the new year. There would be feasts, drinking and a large bonfire. 

The ancient pagans also believed that the new year marked the time in that the passage between the realms of the dead and living were opened.

Much of our modern-day Halloween traditions come from Samhain. Children would put on costumes and sing songs at doorways in exchange for cakes. 

People would wear scary masks so the souls of the dead wouldn’t recognize the living and snatch them away.

The jack-o’-lantern also traces its roots back to this time period, although turnips and gourds would have been carved as pumpkins are native to North America.

Jack-o’-lanterns were used to ward off the souls of the dead from the houses of the living.

Bonfires were placed to help guide the spirits to the portal of the afterworld.

When Christianity spread throughout Europe, many of Samhain’s traditions were adopted by Christians. Most Christian feasts get their date from pagan festivals. Christmas was placed on winter solstice and Easter is around spring equinox.                

Nov. 1 became All Saints’ Day (known as All Hallows’ Day in Old English), a day to honor the saints, and Nov. 2 became All Souls’ Day, a day to remember the dead. 

The celebration of Christian feast days often begins the evening before; for example, Christmas Eve. Thus, All Hallows’ Eve became Halloween. 

As Irish immigrants came to the United States in the 19th century, they brought their traditions with them.

Since Halloween became a major hit in the United States. Today, Americans spend nearly $7 billion per year, some of which goes toward buying 600 million pounds of candy.

As most of Halloween’s traditions were  historically celebrated by people of all ages, it seems reasonable that Halloween is not just for kids. 

Throw a party, dress up as Hans Solo or the Joker. Scary movies can be fun, the same way you might find a root canal operation fun. Whatever you decide to do, just don’t be an idiot, please.

Halloween serves as a good excuse to hangout and meet up with friends. Most of us will probably stop celebrating Halloween altogether once we have real jobs.    

As for trick-or-treating, most people report stopping as early teenagers. But, that’s not all that Halloween has to offer. 

So no, you’re not too old to celebrate Halloween, but you might be too old for downtown Vermillion’s trick-or-treat aimed at schoolchildren. We don’t know what would happen if you show up.