From a Rite of Passage to a Family Day: Halloween Traditions of the CAC Community

Kamille Ritchie, Cactus Editor

In America, Halloween is one of the biggest holidays of the year. As of 2015, over 64 percent of Americans celebrate Halloween. For one night, individuals get to become whoever or whatever their heart desires and get free candy as a result. With the Halloween holiday coming up, this Cactus reporter set out to find out what the CAC’s community does around Halloween.

One of the most common responses was trick or treating. Last year, an estimated 41.2 million people trick or treated. Many CAC students either went trick or treating with their immediate family or with friends. For CAC student, Sonia Rojas-Leo, her family sticks to consistent plan. “We usually wait until the sun setting and then go trick or treating.” Until the sun sets, her family will participate in Halloween activities held by the city. For many, this Halloween tradition can be seen as a rite of passage. When someone is young, many times, a parent or guardian will take them trick or treating; as they get older, teenagers will trick or treat on their own. In a way this activity is a way to gain some independence.

The hunt for candy is not the only motive behind going out Halloween night. Many students simply like to wear a costume. “I love to dress up, if I can, every year,” Ana Lovelace, a CAC student, gleefully says. A plus to Halloween is obviously the evolution of costumes; as a child, a person will wear what someone else tells them to; with aging comes the opportunity to dress up however you like. There are no rules.

Along with dressing up, a popular Halloween activity college students are particularly known for is partying. Many universities hold Halloween activities around campus, including pranks, festivals and obviously parties. One source says, some of the University of Arizona’s Greek societies have been known to hold parties every night for the span of a week, students would be expected to wear a different costume each night.

Other students prefer to be homebodies Halloween night. “On Halloween every year, my sisters and I watch Halloween movies together,” Hannah Holt, a recent CAC graduate, recalls.  Many rather hand out candy or binge watch horror movies. Some of the most popular movies watched around Halloween include Hocus Pocus (1993), The Nightmare before Christmas (1993), and of course, Halloween (1978) [Who could forget that lovable psychopath Michael Myers].

For many students, the process of preparing for Halloween makes the holiday special. For instance, Hannah Holt’s family always put decorations up the first week of October. “My mom every year makes sure we have decorations around the house.” Halloween really brings out the kid in Ana Lovelace’s father.  To create a spooky ambiance, her father will don a full costume [usually a zombie], play scary music, put up creepy decorations, and hand out candy using a bowl that allows a hand to grab the unsuspecting trick or treater.

While Halloween is a popular holiday, CAC has many students who choose not to acknowledge it. One of the more obvious reasons is the holiday’s pagan origins. A Celtic holiday originally meant to honor the dead, many religions see Halloween as evil because its association superstitions, witchcraft, ominous spirits, and the Devil.

Melissa Nelson Boaz, another CAC student, provided a rather unexpected reason as to why she chooses not to participate in the holiday. “Halloween is at the start of the cold and flu season and what is bad for your immune system? Sugar.” According to recent medical studies, sugar actually lowers your immune system’s ability to fight infection. Since Americans consume on average 24 pounds of candy a year, mainly around this time period, it’s clear why Melissa wants to avoid this holiday.

While many CAC students have similar Halloween traditions, the meaning behind them is different for each family. No matter what you do this holiday, remember to stay safe and try not to overdose on candy. Happy Halloween from the Cactus family.