It’s the time of year when spooky stories emerge and haunted traditions appear! Every family is sure to have their own traditions for autumn–from pumpkin-carving to harvest rituals, there’s something for everyone. Halloween traditions aren’t reserved for home alone, however. Some spooky teachers were willing to share the Halloween traditions they have started in their own classrooms here.
On or around Halloween, Dr. Carter, an associate professor in Virginia, takes his class to meet at a cemetery, but it’s not all spooks and scares. Carter says he was inspired by Ray Badbury’s “The Halloween Tree,” where a mysterious figure takes a group of kids through time to explore the origins of their traditions. At the cemetery, the students and Carter discuss their own Halloween celebrations and their families’ funeral traditions. They also consider why Halloween and similar traditions occur during the fall.Ultimately, he hopes students gain an appreciation for the rich culture behind Halloween night. “I hope that they begin to see that Halloween is not just candy and frights … but that it’s one time of the year that we, as a culture, remember our beloved dead (the All Saints and All Souls traditions), take a quick glimpse at a “memento mori,” and gain a bit clearer perspective of how we’re still tied to the earth’s natural rhythms,” Carter says.
Halloween wouldn’t be the same without pumpkin carving traditions, and that’s exactly what students in Pennsylvania do at their annual Pumpkin Festival. The Pumpkin Festival features multiple activities, such as crafting corn husk dolls, a spooky painted wall in the Limestone Cave where jack-o-lanterns provide the only light, and lighted pumpkins that help attendees make their way under the Hosler Oak tree. A mix of pumpkins that are both whimsical and scary comprise the pumpkin contest. From carved cats and koi fish to the Penn State emblem, there’s always a variety.
Initiated in 1998, the Scare Fair is held annually at the University of Rochester. This event gives students a chance to navigate spooky library stacks, where a ghost story is said to have taken place. The Scare Fair is a rare opportunity that students have to tour the library tower, as it’s only open for tours twice a year. The fair’s main attraction, Stack Stalk, is a scavenger hunt that helps students learn their way around the stacks by having them find specific books. Despite a spooky story, the event’s main focus is to provide fun while remaining educational.
Did you know that several scenes in the iconic horror film “The Exorcist” were filmed on the school grounds of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.? In honor of the movie, participating students host what’s known as The Healy Howl. At midnight on Halloween, students walk to the Jesuit cemetery and let out howls for one minute. Whether it’s a pumpkin-carving contest or midnight howl, Halloween traditions in classrooms around the country can unearth buried history that often only emerges on Halloween night.
Boston Tutoring Services