Boo! It’s Halloween Season

You’ve probably seen carved pumpkins, fake skeletons, spider webs, ghosts and all types of scary decorations on campus and around Los Angeles since the beginning of October. Welcome to Halloween season!

Many international students are experiencing their first Halloween in the United States this year. And while it may feel weird and spooky, we’re here to tell you a bit more about this holiday and how it is celebrated today.

Where did the idea of Halloween come from?
Halloween began as a religious tradition in Europe over 2,000 years ago. The Celtic tribes celebrated what was called the Samhain festival on October 31 each year, a night where people believed they could interact with the spiritual world: this is why the Halloween we know today has a “haunted” theme. Later on, the occasion evolved into a homage of dead saints and martyrs.

What does “Halloween” even mean?
The word literally means “Saints’ evening”.

Why October 31st?
That date represented the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the dark winter for the Celts.

Why do we celebrate Halloween the way we do today?
It is said that the ancient festivities typically included people getting together, lighting bonfires, wearing animal heads, and making lanterns. With time, these rituals were modernized into activities that everyone can enjoy, separate from the religious roots of Halloween.

Some of the popular ways to celebrate this holiday in the U.S today include putting up symbolic decorations, dressing up in creative costumes, carving pumpkins to make jack-o-lanterns, and attending scary attractions such as haunted houses and mazes. Trick-or-treating is also a fun tradition, especially for kids who get to knock on their neighbors’ doors in full disguise asking for candy and treats.

Although Halloween is not an official holiday, it became a beloved part of American culture that unites people of all ages and backgrounds.

So, what are your plans this Halloween?

Written by: Tamara Amhaz, OIS Communications Editor, Master of Communication Management, USC Annenberg 2022