Halloween acts as ‘pressure valve’

By Gigi Jeddi | The Duquesne Duke A “monster” poses for a photo in the redecorated, spooky basement of Old Main.

By Gigi Jeddi | The Duquesne Duke
A “monster” poses for a photo in the redecorated, spooky basement of Old Main.

By Gigi Jeddi

Duquesne’s pre-Halloween celebrations and decorations are creating a festive atmosphere on campus in preparation for the upcoming holiday. As these events a take place, one Duquesne professor knows why people love to celebrate this spooky holiday.

Derek Hook, an associate professor of psychology, said on the surface, Halloween does not make much sense.

“It’s unpleasant to be afraid or terrified, but we go through a great deal of time to try and organize that for Halloween,” Hook said.

However, according to Hook, people “love to be terrified.”

“In terms of the broader sphere of human psychology it makes perfect sense,” Hook said. “There’s a kind of enjoyment where we enjoy being stimulated … and we like certain kinds of stimulations, even those which disturb us.”

Halloween acts like a “pressure valve,” according to Hook, that allows people to embrace more sinister ideas and darker humor than is acceptable during the rest of the year.

But Halloween is more than just scary movies and bloody costumes, according to Hook. He said it’s also about community. Like any widely celebrated holiday, Halloween unites neighbors over a common celebration. According to Hook, traditions such as trick-or-treating allow societies to overcome separations that exist during other times of the year.

“Certain theories in anthropology would suggest that that’s how you build bonds, and build a community,” Hook said.

Even at Duquesne, where trick-or-treating is not common, the community is finding ways to celebrate All Hallow’s Eve.

There are decorations in many areas on campus, including the library and the dorms. Students turned the Learning Skill Center in Old Main into a creepy lair, and the members of Sigma Tau Delta held a open mic Halloween reading in the NiteSpot Monday evening. On Tuesday evening, university archivist Thomas White told ghost stories about Duquesne and the surrounding neighborhoods in Gumberg Library.

For many Duquesne students, Halloween is a time for childhood nostalgia.

“I love Halloween partly because I love holidays in general and how everyone gets so festive,” Sierra Popowski, a Duquesne freshman, said. “And I like how it’s a tradition people participate in while growing up.”

For many Duquesne faculty and staff members, the holiday is less about the terrifying and otherworldly, and more about family time.

Giovan Cuchapin, a campus minister at Duquesne who recently moved to a new house, plans to “go trick-or-treating with my four kids in our new neighborhood.”

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