The students, staff and many of the Junior School parents at Wellington College International Tianjin enjoyed an unusually festive Halloween this year. In a revised program that focused on integrating participation across the age phases and promoting student voice, a spirit of fun and fantasy was very much the order of the day.
Halloween’s origins hark back to the Celtic people who lived in the UK and France about 2,000 years ago. The festival itself was celebrated as a marker of the end of summer and the harvest. There was a sense of this ancient change of the season as the Junior school, dressed in all its Halloween splendor, paraded in the stunning autumnal hues to upbeat music while flying the flags of their houses. Celebration was in the air and many seniors, staff and parents cheered, posed and danced.
About a 1,000 years later, the influence of Christianity had taken hold of most of Europe. By then the Church had captured the ancient Celtic festival and had appointed the dark All Souls Day, the Christian day that honors the Dead, as its replacement.
The second main event, the Halloween’s Best Dressed Competition (with the Senior School and Milepost 3), was held in the darker space of the theatre and echoed a gathering of souls. All were dressed in their bests; in elaborate gothic costumes or in weird and imaginatively conceived characters, each one awaiting his or her destiny. Senior year groups were then called to the stage to be judged by Junior House Captains! The majority were damned to anonymity but the chosen were crowned in glory garnering valuable points for their houses.