Halloween Now and Then

Chris Norton

Halloween at Millersville University is sure to bring excitement to students all across campus. However, the feeling of excitement 20-year-olds experience has drastically changed in many ways since they have have been children. Now at a different stages in their lives, college students are forced to rethink their means of entertainment on a holiday mostly celebrated by younger generations.

The origins of this celebratory time date back to ancient Celtic festivals commemorating the lives of those lost in the past year. Once in America, strict Protestant beliefs limited Halloween in many states, diminishing the roots of the holiday. Stemming from Irish and English tradition, many Americans began to wear costumes and go from house to house asking for food or money; what we now call “trick-or-treating.” The initial celebration of the coming of winter has now gone from a religious day, to a holiday where all can enjoy a good scare, candy, and creative costumes; a change that has not been sitting well with some.

Some Christian and Catholic views condemn the holiday, regarding it as a celebration of the devil. Churches have tried offering All Saint’s Day as an appropriate substitute to Halloween, though others fully acknowledge the holiday for what it is today, decorating their buildings with pumpkins, ghosts, and other fitting themes. Religion in the holiday has raised controversy, though many Christians or Catholics see no harm in the Halloween, declaring it a mere day of fun.

For many, Halloween brought forth the joy of being able to dress up as your favoritesuperhero, monster, princess or anything else in your imagination, and getting loads of free candy for doing so. Now, college students, being in a new environment, tend to focus on many different ways of finding entertainment including but not limited to the everlasting stereotype of indulging in alcohol. Many peoples’ views on the holiday may or may not have changed, but most 20-year-olds have thought of new ways to enjoy Halloween, especially here in Millersville.

With the inability to trick-or-treat without creeping out neighbors, Millersville students must think outside to box to fulfill their entertainment needs. Being just outside Lancaster, opportunities are expanded greatly. The city holds the annual Pennsylvania Dutch Country fair allowing everyone to celebrate the harvest season with markets, music, and games which bring us back to our childhood roots.

Another joy found in Halloween for children was being scared by haunted houses, movies, or simple pranks. The need for that exciting feeling of fear is still prevalent among many people who are now much older. Other than channels on television broadcasting horror movies all day long throughout the season, students at Millersville University are not far from the popular attraction Jason’s Woods. This haunted plethora of events not only comes with a hayride, haunted house, and walking tour through dense woods, but musical entertainment and magic shows. One seeking their old childhood thrills will not be disappointed at this spine-chilling event.

Many 20-year-olds are not ashamed to admit that their Halloweens as youths are dearly missed. Senior Mike Donato said “My favorite thing to do on Halloween was run around to every house in my neighborhood and scare my neighbors, then ask for candy. If I did that now at the age of 22 I’d probably have the police called on me.” Donato continued to express the fact that he missed those times, though he has enjoyed his Halloweens at Millersville University since ending his young escapades.

Now, being adults, college students have learned to sympathize towards homeowners who fear what the holiday brings. Vandalism is not unpopular on the night before, or even the night of Halloween. Unlike most young children or adults, some teens take part in “mischief night,” where they run through neighborhoods seeking people or houses to play pranks on. These pranks can sometimes cause a certain degree of damage, whether it be coating a home in toilet paper, or tossing pumpkins into yards or streets. Now that the college demographic is at an age where most rent houses or apartments, these threats are much more realistic. Junior Zach Anderson recalled last year’s Halloween saying “Our house on George Street had been coated in broken egg shells and toilet paper. I’m usually not one to complain about a good prank, but this actually took money out of our pockets to clean up.” The vandalism is watched much more carefully now that most college students either own or rent homes themselves.

Among this generation, there is a general sense of sorrow when looking back on the bliss of trick-or-treating, or other childhood activities around this time of year. Millersville students have accommodated though, finding many events to either bring back memories, or enjoy the opportunities they have today. Whether it is a 9-year-old girl or a 23-year-old man dressing up as a princess on the day of October 31st, they will undoubtedly be viewed as just another spirited soul participating in Halloween tradition. The classic childhood joys are not out of reach.

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