Before I came to Colgate as a first-year in 2004, I had not dressed up for Halloween since Middle School. I thought that costumes were a thing of the past and that, as a mature college student, there was no way that I would partake in that sort of juvenile behavior.
Yet one day freshman year, a friend casually asked me, “So, what are you being for Halloween this year?” I laughed. “Seriously,” he said. “I think I’m going to be a ninja. Everyone’s buying costumes, you should get one before it’s too late.”
After receiving this unexpected information, I sat down at my computer and sifted through countless costumes, finally deciding on a traditional pirate. Since then, I’ve upped the ante every year. Last year I was a Ghostbuster, complete with a proton pack and ion cannon, and this year, well, you’ll have to find out, but let’s say it involves Nickelodeon and a large, talking stone head.
Downtown on Halloween, I’ve seen the most innovative costumes imaginable: Ben Stiller from Dodgeball, Buzz Lightyear, the Grinch, even an oversized bowling ball chasing down ten similarly oversized bowling pins. I often find myself wondering how many hours it took people to plan these outfits. But why do people spend this much time coming up with a costume in the first place? Why do we care so much? And when do we ultimately need to stop tying a horse’s head around our waists every October 31 and telling people that we’re hung like a horse?
Instantly, one reason for college students’ reinvigorated interest in Halloween comes to mind: parties. Admittedly, Halloween parties are some of the best of the year; you can dress like a complete idiot and still be socially acceptable. But even so, there are tons of parties that people look forward to each year. Why does Halloween have that special appeal that causes us to plan out our weekend months in advance?
I think a large part of the obsession is related to nostalgia. Just about everyone has a story from Halloween as a young child, whether it be about their “awesome” costumes, epic trick-or-treating expeditions or throwing up later that night because they ate too many chocolate bars. As high school graduates, we’re past the candy phase; it’s not as exciting now that we can now buy as much as we want. But we can still recreate those great memories through our costumes. From the complicated to the skin-baring to the absurd, our outfits let us slip back into childhood again. College represents the perfect medium for this festivity, allowing us to closely share the experience with our friends and giving us a break from the serious face we all put forward during the week.
But this brings up another question: when does all of this have to stop? I can’t answer that in specifics, but I think it’s safe to say that we’re nearing the end. Some of us might go to “adult” Halloween parties, but probably not many; these just aren’t the same. College may indeed be the last time that we’ll be able to walk around in superhero attire and not scare away the neighbors. So have fun and be creative because you never know how much work your future boss will give you due November 1st.