EDITORIAL: Their culture isn’t your costume


Anna Hummel

Dia de los Muertos masks in a Party City. They are readily available to buy for Halloween, despite the disrespectful nature of the masks.

Jacob L'Hommedieu, Op/Ed Editor

It’s that time of year again where the temperature starts dropping, jack-o’-lanterns are put out, and spooky vibes are in the air. Halloween is a classic holiday that dates back to the Middle Ages. It’s also a time where people often forget how to respect and honor another’s culture.

Indigenous dress, Japanese kimonos, and traditional Middle Eastern garb are just some of the examples of this trend one can usually see on any given Halloween weekend. Wanting to participate in another culture’s customs is not a bad thing and should even be celebrated – as long as it is done so respectfully. But on Halloween, cultural traditions are nothing more than costumes to the people who appropriate them.

Originally known as All Hallow’s Eve, Halloween was a day to prepare for the celebration of All Saint’s Day the following day. Over time, as Christianity spread through Europe, the holiday began adopting different pagan traditions and incorporating the various different cultures of Europe until it became what we know it as today. Or, at least, a less heavily commercialized version.

It seems that since the inception of Halloween, the holiday has always been about the appropriation of other cultures, as popular cultural practices took from indigenous and pagan traditions to create the Halloween we celebrate. Nowadays, instead of taking over religious concepts, we’re taking over other culture’s traditions and identities.

It is not wrong per se to want to participate in another culture’s traditions. In fact, cultures from all around the world deserve celebration and respect for the history and people behind them. However, Halloween isn’t set up to host a proper cultural exchange. People aren’t going to parties to discuss culture. They go to get wasted.

But what can be done to change this? First and foremost, do NOT wear a culture’s traditional attire as a Halloween costume. That’s just disrespectful. Second, just wear something else. It’s Halloween! The night where you can be whatever you want!

Be a ghost, a rockstar, some character from pop culture, or, hell, even a disco ball! Be creative with it, because, if anything, dressing up as someone else’s culture is just lazy.

In the end, all we can do is try and convince you that wearing a Native American headdress and goofing off at midnight is kind of a dick move. All we ask is that you consider what you decide to wear and how it may impact others and the way others see you.

Plus, New Orleans just so happens to be one of the most haunted cities in the United States. With entire areas being banned by cab services for the all too frequent pick-up of ghosts who refuse to pay. Even the campus isn’t immune. There have been hosts of hauntings and even an exorcism that took place in 1968. Ghosts are all around us, and the dead don’t take too kindly to disrespect. 😉