THE history of Halloween is long and rich, rooted in Celtic, Scottish, Welsh and other Christian cultures that have influenced the ritual for over several hundred years.
It is a day to remember the dead and, at the same time, mock and ridicule the very concept of death. But nobody really cares about that now, at least in the United States.
Halloween is one of three things there, depending on your age. For kids, it’s the best time of the year, when they get to dress up as their favorite character and go trick-or-treating and then binge-eat their entire stash of candy in one night, perhaps two if they exercise restraint.
For parents, it’s an exercise in patience and joy, taking care of sugar-pumped toddlers and chaperoning them from house to house in a coat the size of an igloo, effectively ruining their kids’ costumes.
But for teenagers and young adults, it’s a time to drink and party. Heavily.
The first few teenage years may be spent going to haunted houses and watching horror movies with friends, along with other innocent activities like bobbing for apples and playing pranks.
However, as soon they reach about 15, the guys dress as obnoxiously as they can, the girls dress as provocatively as they can, and the apples become cocktails and beer and whatever other poison is being provided at the house or dorm party.
A typical Halloween night in college begins with you and your friends preparing costumes while drinking. You then go with them to another friend’s place, where the party grows in number and the drinks keep flowing.
Finally, you end up at a massive party on or off campus, and by that point you are probably seeing dead people due to the fact that you’ve had enough booze to anesthetize a small elephant. The rest of the night passes in a blur, and you wake up the next morning in a completely different costume.
OK, maybe not, but the amount of drinking involved really cannot be emphasized enough.
Halloween, like all celebrations for 20-somethings, is just another excuse to drink and have fun with our friends in ridiculous fashion.
For many of my friends here and myself, it will be our first time celebrating in Shanghai. We hail from all over the world — Sweden, Germany, Thailand, France, Japan, Spain, South Korea, Russia and America. But despite the differences in cultural background, we are all planning on celebrating Halloween (and laughing in the face of death) in the same way: costumed, together and drinking.