Spider webs are hanging overhead MS Copper Hall with large spiders lying in wait. Hollow, gaunt skeletons stare at students going to and fro. Bats are flying in the corridors and rats are abound. “Here you feel as if you were a character [in a] horror film,” Ukrainian student Oleg Volosovich said.
Halloween preparations are in full swing in MS Cooper, the residence hall that brings together international students from all over the world. Students from Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Holland, Germany, Span, Mexico, Azerbaijan, Sweden, Canada, Turkmenistan, Africa and South Korea are participating in decorating the corridors of the residence hall.
The decoration started three weeks ago. Jeremy Lowe, MS Copper’s third floor residence assistant, came up with the idea.
Initially, he proposed that students draw various scary paintings on big sheets of paper on the eve of Halloween. Afterwards, he bought the decorations.
“Decorating the dorm with buffoonish webs and spiders, skulls, bats and rats is amazing. We’ve never experienced that in our country. We don’t celebrate this holiday in such [a] way,” a South Korean student said.
Students from other countries are not used to celebrating Halloween, even though they know all about it. Halloween is believed to be celebrated throughout the world as a result of globalization. However, it is not as popular in Russia, Europe, Asia and Africa as you might think.
“We have only a sort of party, and nothing else,” Serbian student Senad Ibraimoski said.
Azerbaijani student Elvin Mammadov agreed, saying “We do not celebrate this holiday.”
Spanish student Alessandro Munoz-Escalona said, “There are two types of people in Spain. The first type is in the minority: they want to come together and celebrate Halloween. Other people are too reluctant to celebrate this holiday. ‘Why should we celebrate it if we are not supposed to be Americans? We are Europeans,’ they say.”
The same trend is typical for other Asian and European countries where Halloween is usually not observed with decorations and costumes like in the United States.
This may be partly because these countries have counterparts similar to Halloween.
For example, in Russia people observe a custom before Christmas that somewhat resembles Halloween. The name of this tradition is Svyatky, or Kalyadovanye.
It’s observed by dressing up, singing songs and visiting different houses. A handful of adults or children go to stranger’s houses, knock on their doors, sing songs, read poetry, and wish luck and happiness to the house’s hosts. In response to these greetings, the hosts should give gifts such as cakes, sweets, coins, or postcards to the unexpected guests.
If they don’t, they will face problems in upcoming years, according to this old tradition, because the unexpected guests are believed to be the souls of dead relatives who come to our world to see their living relatives and wish them luck. Giving a gift is seen as a sort of sacrifice.
In Spain, people celebrate All Saints’ Day, which coincides with Halloween in the United States. All Saints’ Day is observed by visiting relatives’ graves to pay them tribute.
People know about Halloween from Hollywood movies, which create a lot of stereotypes. Now, international students can figure out what Halloween really means. It remains to be seen whether or not they will celebrate this holiday in their own countries. Undoubtedly, their way of thinking about Halloween will be altered.