It’s that time of year again. A time for witchcraft and wizardry. Do you solemnly swear to be up to no good? I know I do. As the smell of pumpkin spice suffuses the campus with a feeling of autumn, it’s time once again for Piedmont Central’s Very Harry Halloween. Prepare for a night of transformation straight from the Book of Spooky Stuff.
Halloween as we know it is a recent phenomenon. That is, the tradition of dressing up and getting candy door to door. Before the 1920s, children formed gangs and wandered the neighborhoods getting into trouble on Halloween. It wasn’t until the Hoover administration that adults figured they could get kids to behave by bribing them with candy. Who knew?
Trick-or-treating has its roots in medieval Europe, when peasants would go door to door, offering to pray for the souls of the wealthy. In exchange, the rich would give beer or food to the poor, and so the tradition grew to encompass costuming and whatnot. When the Irish came to America, this tradition grew into nights of revelry and festivity that quickly became popular. Once the holiday became more associated with children, things quieted down a bit. At least until the 1970s, when parents started sharing that rumor about poisoned candy and spreading paranoia far and wide.
Fun fact: There have been cases of attempted murder through poisoned candy. There have been about two or three. And none were attempts to murder masses of neighborhood kids. So, enjoy those unwrapped candy bars and caramel apples, kids! No need to fear razorblades or cyanide.
Recently, some parents have started the “fun” celebration of trunk-or-treating, whereby neighbors will gather in a parking lot and parents escort their kids to each neighbor’s car, where candy is handed out under the watchful eye of Mom and Dad. Yay for parental paranoia.
As for Halloween, the tradition of honoring the spirits of the departed has existed on Earth for millennia in different forms. For Roman Catholics, All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day are times when the faithful are called to pray for the departed. In Mexico, this celebration has combined with indigenous beliefs to form the Day of the Dead. Most of these celebrations involve leaving out food for the departed, as their spirits pass through the land of the living. Altars raised to the dead often incorporate flowers, small toys (for the departed children). and photographs.
But of course, the question remains: What does any of this have to do with Harry Potter? Well, as we know from the writings of the esteemed J.K. Rizzle-Dizzle, Harry “The Golden God” Potter attended Hogwarts School of Neat Tricks and Wizardry, where the only holiday bigger than Christmas is Halloween. (Yes, I recognize that’s a bit politically-incorrect. Take it up with the Ministry of Magic, that they don’t call it “Winter Break.” Besides, the books are set in the 90s. I’m sure by now they’ve changed the name.)
Halloween celebrations at Hogwarts often involve floating candles, cloudy, ghost-filled corridors and jumping chocolate frogs. While we can’t promise any of that, Piedmont Central is sure to put on a grand gala fit for even the most ghoulish of guests. I recently spoke with Jhenae Brown, a supervisor at Piedmont Central, who assured me there would be several spooky surprises in store: a photo booth, pumpkin painting and a Harry-Potter-inspired menu just to start. Speaking of food, there will be a delicious assortment of delectable treats, including honey buns, chocolate wands and wizarding hat cupcakes. There may or may not be a giant spider, in addition to a whole section devoted to Honeydukes. There will be a “Batwing Bar” with plenty of buffalo wings to go around, as well as butterbeer (non-alcoholic of course). Piedmont Central employees will be dressing up for the event, and they encourage all students and guests to come in their Harry Potter attire. There may even be a chance to get sorted into one of the four houses of Hogwarts. Piedmont Central’s Very Harry Halloween starts October 31 at 4 p.m.
Real, Honest-to-Bob Sources:
A Brief History of People Tampering With Halloween Candy. (2014, October 23). Retrieved from http://mentalfloss.com/article/12914/brief-history-sick-people-tampering-halloween-candy.
Garrett, K., & Soriano, T. (2018, November 2). Top 10 things to know about the Day of the Dead. Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/destinations/north-america/mexico/top-ten-day-of-dead-mexico/.
Waxman, O. B. (n.d.). Halloween History: When Trick-or-Treating Became a Tradition. Retrieved from https://time.com/4991828/halloween-trick-or-treating-history/.