BHS students navigate shift in Halloween norms

“When I was younger, I’d go trick or treating with my family,” said Lilly Cobb, a sophomore at Berkeley High School, describing her unconventional Halloweens from years past.


“When I was younger, I’d go trick or treating with my family,” said Lilly Cobb, a sophomore at Berkeley High School, describing her unconventional Halloweens from years past. “We’d dress up in costumes, and then we’d get candy from strangers as one does. … Then, my parents would allow me to sell them the candy for 10 cents apiece to put out for children the following year, because they did not want (my sibling and I) to get very hyper.”

Today, Cobb doesn’t fully understand the hype around the holiday. She enjoys the general season of fall but could do without Halloween.

One of the most popular traditions surrounding the holiday is the practice of dressing up in a costume. On October 31, BHS took part in this tradition, kicking off the school’s Unity Week. 

“I’m gonna do corpse paint and (wear) a skeleton shirt, a gray sweater and look for the great pumpkin with my friends,” said BHS sophomore Scottie Hainsworth. Hainsworth didn’t dress up last year, and misses the nostalgia factor of wearing a costume.

Ethan Grimes, a junior at BHS, dressed up as a British educational YouTuber named Tom Scott this year, as he looks up to him and hopes to make similar content one day. He has always celebrated Halloween and loves being able to dress up as his favorite character every year.

Although Grimes wished he could go out and trick or treat, this year he had too much homework and instead passed out candy while reading books for school.    However, there are students at BHS that are not as interested in dressing up for Halloween. “It takes a lot of effort to find a costume that you like, and then everyone judges you for what you dress up as,” Cobb said. 

Grimes also noted that high school students are often busy and just don’t have the time to participate in dressing up or trick or treating like they used to.

“As I got older, Halloween seemed to creep up on me a bit more since I’ve been more busy with school work,” Grimes said.

Simone Schubert, a junior at BHS, is Jewish, and her family doesn’t participate in pagan holidays. 

Schubert recalled that even at her Jewish private school, many students still celebrated the holiday. They’d ask her what she was going to dress up as, and Schubert would have to say that she doesn’t celebrate Halloween.

Though she doesn’t celebrate Halloween in the traditional sense, Schubert is well-researched in the history of its roots, and loves many activities often associated with the holiday. She often uses Halloween as an excuse to have a sleepover with her friends, watch horror movies, and dress up, all of which she said she’d take any excuse to partake in.

“I don’t think I’m missing out on that much,” Schubert said. “I’m missing the same childhood memories as a lot of people, but I have Purim.” 

Purim is a Jewish holiday that takes place in late winter or early spring, celebrating the salvation of the Jewish people after a court official attempted to “annihilate all Jews in a single day.” One tradition of the celebration is children and adults dressing up in costumes.

As high school students transition to adulthood, there is often the question of whether or not teenagers should partake in certain aspects of Halloween. The line between what is for kids and what is not are often blurry, as there is no actual expiration date on a person’s participation in any holiday.

“I think that there’s an age where it switches (from) ‘I’m doing this because I’m a child,’ to ‘I’m doing this because my friends are all gonna dress up and I want to go out with my friends and do things’,” Cobb said.