Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
February 28, 2024


With the coming of Halloween, Iyer and Salem reflect on how their celebration of this holiday has changed in college.

This Halloween weekend was spooky, for lack of a better term (there are definitely better terms to start this installment of our column off with — we just don’t know them). 

First of all, long-standing traditions were broken. Every single Halloween season, up until now, Laura has religiously watched Halloweentown, Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge, and Return to Halloweentown as part of her celebration of the holiday. This iconic trilogy is Laura's favorite thing about Halloween every year, a tradition that unfailingly brings with it warm feelings of comfort and nostalgia. 

Unfortunately this year, Laura was unable to squeeze these three movies into her schedule with the insane amount of schoolwork that piled up throughout the month. Unlike all the Halloween weekends before, this Halloween left Laura with a void in her heart —one that the Halloweentown trilogy would have typically filled. 

Diksha, on the other hand, isn’t much of a fan of Halloween. Will she dress up if forced? Yes. Will she wear makeup because it makes her feel pretty? Yes. But is she really just writing this article because she knows that Laura associates Halloween with feelings of comfort and safety and she wants to support Laura in that? Yes. 

Both of us have differing perspectives on Halloween and what this holiday represents, which are connected to a wider progression of change in our overall lives. 

Looking at our experiences in college so far, we have realized that our current interactions with Halloween have changed from our cherished childhood experiences of this holiday. We have a more mature outlook on the celebrations and its traditions. We are more likely to head to a party than to go trick-or-treating, which has turned into a daytime activity to be done within one’s department if their professors choose to host it. 

This Halloween was marked by the sad realization that we’ve grown up. There was a lot of grappling with this fact this year. Since the pandemic began, it has been the first year that we could both properly go out and celebrate Halloween with our peers. Yet, the joy of the holiday feels different than it did before. 

Halloween has changed dramatically since we were kids. Our goals for the night have grown past a measly collection of KitKat, Mars Bars, Three Musketeers and Reese’s Cups. Not that it wouldn’t boost our spirits to get some — chocolate is always welcome in our households. Inevitably, schoolwork and exams have interfered with our ability to wholeheartedly enjoy this holiday — but also, we are beginning to shift our perspective on this holiday and its childish traditions.

We debate between maturing and leaving behind the things that defined our childhood. However, losing those long-standing traditions opens the door to instability, fear and confusion. Sometimes we don’t know what the future holds, so falling back on familiar concepts makes us feel comforted and whole. Halloween was a night in which we used to know what to do — our path was set, our baskets were empty and waiting and we knew, from social cues, how to progress throughout the night. 

This year, that was not the case. Laura was not able to retreat into the comforting home of her movies, and Diksha actually (willingly!) put on a costume, replete with a dashing smoky eye to represent her (true) fallen angel persona. Both of us exited our comfort zones and entered an area of uncertainty — the realm of parties instead of trick or treating, college instead of childhood. It’s scary but characteristic of growing older and finding personal development. 

Although we might still find some comfort in the traditions of our upbringing, we welcome these new changes as markers of our gradual maturation and growth as college students.

And just so it’s clear — the photo we used for this installment is, in fact, Photoshopped because we simply never take pictures together and it’s something we need to work on. 

Laura Salem is a sophomore from Tolland, Conn., studying Psychology and History. Diksha Iyer is a sophomore from Dearborn, Mich., studying Public Health and Economics. Through their differing perspectives, Laura and Diksha stumble their way through their college experience one step at a time.

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