Halloween: haunted or humorous?

Sofia Wells , Staff Writer

Halloween originated from a centuries old Celtic tradition but by the 1930’s had morphed into a night of pranking, candy, and scary costumes. But how do BHS students and faculty celebrate Halloween today, and what does our community believe when it comes to paranormal activity? 

Out of the 101 students and staff who responded to a poll sent by The Register, 67% said that they do believe in ghosts.

Photo: Georgia Wool

“My two cents is that I feel like [ghosts] don’t [exist],” Elsa Sanborn ‘24 said. “I don’t really know [if] people have souls, and I feel like there’s probably some scientist that could prove me wrong, but I just feel like they don’t.”

English teacher Peter McConville agrees with Sanborn.

“I don’t believe in ghosts because I think that the onus would be on the ghost to prove its existence, not on me to blindly believe in something that I don’t think exists,” McConville said. 

Brooke Hoyt, executive assistant at BHS, is a believer. 

“I’ve always kind of believed in ghosts and the paranormal and I think everything is related to energy,” Hoyt said. “I think there are spirits that don’t pass on that are just energy within our spaces.”

Hoyt celebrates Samhain, a holiday of the dead in Celtic and Pagan traditions. The holiday is celebrated on Halloween and entails building a fire and letting go of spirits or making offerings to the dead. 

“Being kind and being open-minded around Halloween is always appreciated,” Hoyt said.

Those celebrating a more secular Halloween differ on whether it should be scary or not. 

“I have mixed feelings because when my kids were really little, there was a neighbor who would cut a pumpkin jack-o-lantern out and put it on his head and scare [my kids] pretty bad,” McConville said. “I kind of think that’s funny, but I also think that’s sort of mean [because] those are little kids.”

I’ve always kind of believed in ghosts and the paranormal and I think everything is related to energy,”

— Brooke Hoyt

History teacher Sean Fleming says that Halloween was a cherished holiday in his family growing up. Fleming believes it connects us to our cultural past and should be scary.

“I really believe that Halloween is channeling an aspect of our psychology that deals with death, the afterlife and horror,” Fleming said. “Halloween gives us an opportunity to express those often hidden feelings and images that we harbor all the time.” 

BHS librarian Ellen Wollensack sees Halloween as something a bit more simple. 

“It’s all about costumes, candy, kids coming to my door and dressing up,” Wollensack said. 

Whether you believe in ghosts, historic traditions, or just like to get dressed up, Halloween remains important to much of the BHS community.