Halloween takes over Hanover

by Kripa Shrestha | 11/1/16 12:47am

A little under 10 weeks ago, I packed the relics of my 19 years of life in Nepal into one outrageously purple suitcase and another softer chocolate brown suitcase and spent almost 48 hours flying over continents, seas and cityscapes to find a home at Dartmouth. These 10 weeks have contained many firsts for me — my first snowfall, my first football game and my first time running around a larger-than-life bonfire in a splendid preservation of tradition.

But embracing Dartmouth and its culture is more than assimilating into college life — it is also my window into American society and tradition that I had once only experienced through dazzling and perhaps exaggerated accounts in the media.

As the last of the orange leaves fall, I often catch myself pondering how curious I find some of these traditions — in particular, those that accompany Halloween. Pumpkin-carving and dressing up as fantastical creatures from the netherworld to get your neighbors to give you free candy? The holiday is both odd and endearing.

Adeline Braverman ’20, whose favorite holiday is Halloween, reckons it was originally a Christian holiday that had something to do with dressing up to ward off evil spirits, which eventually gave rise to the tradition of trick-or-treating. In reality, Halloween is thought to have originated with a Celtic pagan holiday, according to History.com.

The best part about Halloween, Braverman said, is that “it kind of moves in stages throughout your life, so as you age, Halloween ages with you and becomes something a little bit different.”

As a child, Braverman trick-or-treated for Halloween and in middle school she hung out with friends, transitioning to partying in high school and college.

“I’m excited for when I have kids and get to take them trick-or-treating,” Braverman said. “I love how you can really make Halloween your own. It can mean different things for different people.”

Ezekiella Carlos ’19 said that “past the candy stage” people like Halloween because it is the one day of the year when they can go “all out” and be something or someone they are not.

Carlos remembers dressing up as a princess, pirate and angel. She loved that on Halloween, you could wear something unconventional.

“It was okay to do that,” Carlos said. “Everyone did it, and you were supposed to do it.”

Fabián Štoček ’17, an international student from the Czech Republic, recalls feeling very confused his first Halloween at Dartmouth. Last year on Halloween, when Štoček was living off campus, a group of children took him and his housemates by surprise when they knocked at his door asking for candy.

“We gave them some unwrapped chocolate that was left over,” he said.

Štoček was also surprised that the children had not prepared any tricks. He had expected they would do something to his house because of the term “trick-or-treating” and his lack of free candy for the trick-or-treaters. Štoček said this was a prominent Halloween experience for him that he will remember for the rest of his life. He remembers thinking, “Oh, I have a house now. I guess I have to do these things.”

This year he is better prepared and has bought candy for the house.

The mood at Dartmouth and the preparation for the holiday surprised Carlos, given that Hanover seems to lack younger children.

Carlos looked forward to Halloween, given that Homecoming, Halloween and the end to the fraternity ban all fell in the same three day period.

“The energy level just skyrockets,” Carlos said. “That’s why it’s nights like these, nights like the big weekends, that get us so hyped even if we’re not really sure what’s in store.”