OPINION: Halloween deserves more

(Bella Pettengill • The Student Life)

I’ll admit it; when I first entered Pomona College, I was already excited to celebrate Halloween at the 5Cs. Growing up, I adored the sense of community one of my favorite holidays brought to my usually solitary neighborhood, the feeling of outdoing last year’s costume and the numerous horror movie screenings.

Unfortunately, this Oct. 31, I realized that my aspirations would not be realized. I spent all of Halloween evening completing assignments due the next day and studying for an upcoming test. I’m here to make the case for Halloween and argue that professors should make it easier for students to celebrate the holiday.

Halloween’s biggest merit lies in its community building, which transcends cultural background. My immigrant family and I enjoy the distinct feeling of ‘Americanness’ that comes with participating in the holiday and how it unites us with others in our neighborhood who may or may not share our distinct identity. Halloween remains an accessible holiday for many, bringing together people of different ethnicities, religions and backgrounds in my neighborhood and across the nation.

Halloween provides the psychological advantage of building a collective consciousness, a set of shared beliefs, ideas and customs that allow individuals to feel solidarity with each other. This solidarity is the basis of functional societies and allows us to feel connected. Halloween reaffirms this collective consciousness, as I witnessed with my feelings of ‘Americanness’ during the holiday. There is value in feeling a connection to others, as students feel more supported by their community and they experience a sense of belonging at the schools.

Much of this collective consciousness is due to the evolution of modern Halloween, which began with Irish and Scottish immigrants bringing Samhain — a Celtic pagan festival honoring the harvest and beginning of the winter — to the United States. As more people began celebrating the holiday, it became more community-centric, incorporating costume contests, parades, music, food, dancing and sweet treats into its celebration. The festival also became more secular over time, ingraining itself into American culture.

I’ve heard other students make the argument that because Halloween does not have the same religious significance as other holidays, students who celebrate it should not get the same leeway — such as extensions on assignments, adjusted deadlines, etc. — as with other holidays. But I disagree. The merits of celebrating holidays should not be limited to keeping religious beliefs and traditions alive. The community-building benefits of Halloween justify its celebration.

Not providing students with the ability to celebrate Halloween is a wasted opportunity for the colleges. Halloween is one of the few major holidays that we get to celebrate together on campus, and the 5Cs should encourage full participation so student bonds are strengthened. This should mean giving students an extra day or two to submit assignments and avoiding scheduling tests around Halloween or Halloweekend.

For students themselves, I’d like to encourage them to embrace Halloween fully. Even though traditions such as Dorm Trick-or-Treating may seem childish at first, some students, myself included, have expressed their desire to participate. Dorm RAs and campus representatives should encourage these traditions on Halloween evening, and students should take full advantage of these opportunities.

With so many avenues to celebrate the spooky season, the 5Cs deserve a Halloween that truly embodies the spirit of the holiday — creative, community-oriented and, most importantly, a time to let loose.


Anjali Suva PO ’27 is from Orange County, California. She loves watching horror films, reading fantasy books and just about anything that allows her to avoid touching grass.

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