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Have a Happy Halloween

Have a Happy Halloween and a Blessed Samhain Header

October 28, 2022

Halloween is celebrated every year on October 31, and in 2022 it will be held on Monday, October 31.

Halloween is stitched with cultural, religious, and occult traditions, referring to ancient Celtic festivals. It starts with the Celts celebrating the end of the harvest season on October 31, and on November 1, the Celts celebrate their new year, known as Samhain. To commemorate the event, Celts built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes.

Samhain lost its tradition as the Catholic church's influence overtook Europe, frowning upon the Pegan rituals. Pope Gregory III's holiday-sanctioned November 1 as "All Saints' Day". All Saints Day, known then as Hallowmas, where "Hallow" means holy. The translation of Hallowmas refers to mass of holy saints. The night before, October 31, was "All hallows' eve," which morphed into what we know today as Halloween.

Halloween was brought overseas to the United States with the Irish immigration wave during the potato famine of the 1840s. Irish introduced several holiday customs, including bobbing for apples and children pranking. The young pranksters wore masks so they wouldn't be recognized, but over the years, the tricks grew into vandalism by the 1930s. This began the famous and some would say the best part of Halloween, the treats. Trick-or-treating was an extortion deal to bribe tricksters from doing any more damage and encourage them to go door-to-door as an alternative to troublemaking. By the 1930s, trick-or-treat became the holiday greeting.

When considering your festive attire, please remember the following:

  • A person’s culture is not a costume.
  • Historically, dressing in clothing or attempting to portray another's cultural identity (for example, ethnic, racial, gender, or sexual orientation) was intended to denigrate the marginalized group.
  • Wearing costumes that depict the identities of others perpetuates stereotyping.

Members of the UNC campus community are encouraged to consider how internalized prejudices may manifest themselves in subtle ways. Stereotypes and contributing to negative stigmas based on identity are harmful. Connect with your friends or examine yourself to determine whether your costume is potentially offensive.

Take Action:

For additional education and personal development related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, the following resources are available: DEI Education and Resources, DEI and Antiracism Resources from the UNC Libraries, the Education Equity Toolkit from the Colorado Department of Higher Education, and the UNITE workshops for faculty, staff, and students.