The Origins of Halloween and Urban Legends Pepperdine Graphic

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Graphic by Ali Levens

Carved pumpkin lanterns are set up outside the dorms, cobwebs and ghosts loom over the HAWC, and students go into a frenzy as they try to find what to dress. Alas, Halloween is here.

As we draw closer to the spooky day, the Pepperdine community embraces the holiday spirit. But how did this day come to be?

The holidays began as an ancient Celtic festival called Samhain – a fire festival to celebrate the end of summer and welcome the fall harvest.

In ancient Europe, the Celts believed that the barrier between the human world and the underworld could collapse during vacations, allowing spirits to roam around the earth. Therefore, on this day, people believed that if they lit bonfires and dressed in animal and monster costumes, they could drive spirits away. People would also fill bowls with food and place them outside their homes to make sure ghosts didn’t enter.

In the Middle Ages, the traditions of Samhain changed – this is where pumpkin lanterns come into the picture. Families would tie carved turnips to sticks with string and wrap them in charcoal to protect themselves from the spirits. Eventually, the Irish replaced these carved turnips with pumpkins, according to history.com.

In the ninth century, the traditions of Samhain were then adapted to the celebration of All Saints’ Day – a public holiday on November 1, Pope Gregory III appointed to honor all saints. All Hallows’ Eve refers to the day before, October 31, now commonly known as Halloween.

Halloween celebrations began in the Americas when Europeans migrated to New England and brought their beliefs and customs around the holiday. Settler communities celebrated the harvest by sharing stories of the dead, dancing and singing. People have adopted the tradition of dressing up and walking around neighborhoods asking for food or money – this has come to be known as trick-or-treat.

As Protestant beliefs spread across the United States, community leaders strived to make the holiday less frightening for children, so that it lost its roots in 20th century superstition and witchcraft.

Today, Halloween is a beloved holiday and is celebrated across the country through house parties, costume contests, candy bars, and carved pumpkins.

On Halloween, being afraid becomes exciting. People like to be scared and let loose by walking through haunted houses and mazes, watching horror movies, and telling scary stories. In fact, haunted houses generate around $ 500 million in ticket sales per year, according to americanhaunts.com.

Halloween stories are all about spotting witches in the woods, werewolves under a full moon, and zombies crawling out of graves – let’s take a look at some more urban legends.

One of the most famous urban legends is Slender Man. Slender Man is a tall haunting faceless figure lurking in black and white photos. This creepy creature is said to attract and kidnap people in secluded places, never to be seen again.

The myth emerged as a Creepypasta meme in 2009 when there was an online Photoshop image contest to create a supernatural story and a user created the viral creature known as Slender Man.

Another popular urban legend is the childhood tale of Bloody Mary. Rumor has it that if someone looks in a mirror and repeats “Blood Mary” three times, a bloody woman appears – sometimes holding a dead baby.

Some historians suspect that this woman is Queen Mary I of England, known as “Bloody Mary” because she accused 280 Protestants of heresy and ordered them to be burned at the stake, according to smithsonianmag.com. Mary also had a history of irregular menstrual cycles and miscarriages, which also adds meaning to her nickname.

In addition to telling spooky urban legends, students have the opportunity to participate in the Halloween festivities on campus.

An upcoming board event on campus is the Fall Farmer’s Market Festival on October 23 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Lighthouse Patio.

“We will have booths featuring fall flower bouquets, pumpkin sprinkle cupcakes and squash bags,” according to the board’s October newsletter.

Students will also be able to buy apple cider to complete the fall atmosphere.

As Halloween approaches and when students are staying late to participate in party activities, be sure to be on the lookout for spooky figures lurking in the distance, spirits looming around dorms and creepy crawling spiders.

Happy Halloween!

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Follow the graphic on Twitter: @PeppGraphic

Email to Yamillah Hurtado: [email protected]



Key words:
ghost festivities Halloween haunted house story jack-o “-lantern pepperdine monsters graphic medium pumpkin trick-or-treat urban legends Yamillah Hurtado



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