/ Parenting, Travel & Leisure

Why I love Halloween

Pumpkins carved with hearts

To me, Halloween means dressing up, enjoying some fun and games and getting into the community spirit. To many others it’s a time to turn the lights out and pretend you’re not in. Which camp are you in?

Put me in a cauldron and cast a spell on me, but I’m going to say it anyway: I love Halloween.

My pumpkin has been sat in the cupboard waiting to be hollowed out since the start of the week, a few days ago I dug out all the Halloween decorations and I’ve been busily finding themed food and games online.

Admittedly, the latter is for my three-year-old daughter and her friends, but I’m not ashamed to say I’m glad to have an excuse to get properly involved in this spooky celebration every year.

Go and frighten somebody else

I’ve also got a few goodies tucked away in the hope that some trick-or-treaters come a-calling. I realise I’m in the minority here. Already this year I’ve heard all the usual excuses: they’re too aggressive and they scare old people; why should I give to people I don’t know; kids are getting lazier and greedier in terms of how much effort they make and how much they expect.

In fact, a survey by Quidco showed the extent of our Halloween misery. One in five said they’d rather pretend they’re not in than answer the door to trick-or-treaters. And a third will hide behind the sofa rather than give away any goodies! Why? Apparently they can’t afford it.

All this just makes me feel a bit depressed. There aren’t many annual events that encourage communities to interact, let alone ring on strangers’ doorbells. Isn’t this a great excuse to get to know neighbours and break down barriers?

Of course, I appreciate this isn’t always the case. Last year I experienced good and bad callers. The good generally involved kids who’d made a proper effort to dress up, were happy with two or three sweets to add to their collection, and were accompanied by older siblings or adults.

The bad ones, though, knocked too loudly (and too late), thought that wearing a mask constituted fancy dress and expected way more than I was willing to give. The ones that fall into this category can undoubtedly be aggressive, scary, lazy and greedy – and I’d happily not answer the door to them.

A few rotten apples shouldn’t spoil all the fun

But should they spoil the fun for everyone else? In the next year or two I’d like to start a trick-or-treating ritual with my daughter, and I’d hope there are some people like me who get into the spirit of things to make it a special event that she’ll remember. Contrary to what those Quidco voters think, it doesn’t have to cost a lot – I’ve spent about £3 on a few bumper bags of sweets.

And yet, if Seaford Town Council has anything to do with it, we could be stopped from ghoulish games altogether in future. In a move to crack down on people asking for cash on doorsteps, locals are being asked to vote on establishing a ‘no cold-calling’ ban within the town.

If they go ahead with the ban, Trading Standards are expected to investigate anyone who regularly defies it – which would include carol singers and trick-or-treaters. They won’t be fined or arrested but it is expected to put them off.

‘Bah ghostbug’ is all I’ve got to say to that!

Comments
Member

Try harder please? No more “My pumpkin has been sat in the cupboard waiting —- ”
Try ‘has been sitting”.instead,—- please.

Member
J Brodie says:
30 October 2011

>>> My pumpkin has been sat in the cupboard waiting to be hollowed out … <<<

This is hardly incorrect usage. It makes sense if you take the time to parse it properly, recognise the verb "to sit" has more than one meaning, and the different conjugations being used to show the sequence of events.

1) The pumpkin has been sat (placed) in the cupboard (by the author). Present perfect passive – correct usage for an action that occurred in the past, focussing on the pumpkin, not the agent.

2) It has been waiting to be hollowed out. Present perfect continuous – correct usage for an action that has yet to be completed.

Pumpkins are inanimate objects; they do not sit of their own accord, but they can wait for things to happen to them.

Member
Anonymous says:
20 March 2015

I Agree if your gonna talk then use proper grammer.

Member
Mr Blobby says:
30 October 2011

I don’t understand how anyone can defend the practice of trick or treating. Effectively what you are saying, if you engage in this odious activity, is “give me some sweets or I’ll do something to you that you won’t like”. At any other time of the year this would be called extortion or obtaining goods with menaces.
Why should we condone this stupid American tradition? What are we teaching our children – that is OK to threaten their neighbors with throwing flour all over their car unless they hand over chocolate?
If you want to build some community spirit and interact then why not do it in a nice way?

Member
Some Guy says:
1 November 2017

Besides, if you don’t like buying candy put a bowl on the porch(empty) that says take one. They will think “Oh, somebody dumped the bowl…” and then move to the next house.

Member
Sophie Gilbert says:
30 October 2011

Bah, humbug!

Member

I grew up in North America, where Halloween was a “tradition”. It was one of the themes at school for creative writing and art, and we all pestered our parents for pumpkins to carve into jack-o’-lanterns, and costumes to wear for parties and trick-or-treat. When I came to Europe in my teens, Halloween was non-existent.

I’ve seen how, in a generation, this alien celebration has been indoctrinated into the British psyche by supermarkets full of even more tat and trivia for parents to buy their children. No doubt this is justified by their PR departments, as a response to the “customer demand” created by US television imports.

It now has equal billing with Guy Fawkes, Easter and Christmas. How long before we can be persuaded to celebrate Thanksgiving to promote more turkey sales?

I think if Dickens were alive today, he would have reserved Scrooge’s famous catchphrase “Bah, humbug!” for Halloween.

@Bob or anyone else who finds fault with my mid-Atlantic grammar: Please be merciful of any peregrinate language that has crept into this expostulation redounding from my foreign infancy. I have strained over the annals to strangle any kindless use of English such as may abroach the adoptious bawcocks of Shakespeare’s bequest.

Member
Phil says:
30 October 2011

Like School Proms this is another American import we could well do without. As Mr Blobby says Trick or Treating is little more than extortion.

Member
Person says:
6 November 2017

scrooge much?

Member

Pumpkins have replaced the organic vegetables on the shelves in Waitrose; I suspect an irreversible cultural shift has occurred.

Member
A. Ooop says:
30 October 2011

@Em … Aw shucks dude, chill …. We ain’t all that bad on this side of ‘tlantic tha knows, an’ are grammer is renound round ‘t world as bein in a class ofits sewn! Yeehaa.

Member

Wal, fry mah hide – y’all heerd o’ Dogpatch in th’ UK?? Has any fool can plainly see, yo’ wimmenfolk shud be celebratin’ Sadie Hawkins Day, nex’ November 12th!! Ne’er mind Halloween ‘n Thanksgivin’ – y’all hain’t seen nuttin’ o’ culteral shiftin’ yet (gulp!)!!

Daisy Mae

Member

If this is about getting to know your neighbours then do it during the day in the summer when I can get to know you properly. Not on a dark winters night whilst teaching your children how to harrass your neighbours/strangers for a reward. This is just more American commercialism like Christmas.

Member
Eric Watson says:
30 October 2011

I opened the door and had a full jug of bleach thrown over me, I was threatened that if I did not reward the trick with £5 it would be battery acid.
I slammed the door shut and the following morning I found my car had been keyed and all my double glazed windows had been hammered.
I say ban this stunt as from now.

Member

Hi Eric, that’s horrible, I’m so sorry you had to experience that. Much as I love many Halloween traditions, of course I’d never condone this and I hope you reported it to the police.

Member
S John says:
18 October 2012

First, and foremost, I am American. Curiously, I am working on a midterm group project for school (college), a sort of debate for my Logic class, and we are arguing the pros/cons of this beloved holiday, Halloween.

There are a lot of very thought provoking comments on this page, and all have their truthfulness from the perspectives of those giving them. I will say a few things, though, just to clarify a point. Like all things, negative media attention NEEDS to be taken with some criticism. Sure, we hear horror stories about LOTS of things. That does not always, however, provide sufficient reasoning for believing in something/or not.

I am an American. I went “Trick or Treating.” First, I never once was taught to go up to my neighbors’ doors and demand candy or pay the consequences. Second, we were told that houses of those who are participating would have their security/entryway lights on and that only these houses should we visit (those who didn’t wish to buy/give out candy didn’t need to, and nobody “punished” them for it). Lastly, I have a son myself and I have taken him out each Halloween for the last 3 years. He enjoys it and the neighbors of the homes we visit are overjoyed and express abundant affection towards him, and other “treat goers,” for their “cute” costumes.

If you guys on that side of the ocean are having issues with this holiday tradition, I can only say one thing: Somewhere the transition went wrong. Probably should better educate your “children” before you let them loose on your neighbors.

Member
anonymous lady says:
18 October 2017

everybody loves Halloween so just because you have had that experience does not mean you can just decide Halloween is a bad holiday

Member

I hate it I think its a bad American culture and I always make sure I am out. I cannot believe that people see it as “fun” . I have had arguments with my own sister who takes her child out trick or treating and says that everyone in their neighbour hood has a pumpkin in the window if they wish to participate, well not round my way , they come anyway and I refuse to answer the door . There is no code and to bribe children with sweets is at worst pedophilia and at best just wrong. Whats has gone so wrong with our culture , I mean young children get sweets and unsupervised older kids are just after easy money and I feel if they are demanding money it is contortion and the government should make it a crime.For r people its can be very frightening as the gentelmen above has just demonstrated with the bleach . That is an offence. You should have called the police.!

Member

If my door is knocked on, I only answer it if its on the 31st October, any other night they get told to come back.
On the 31st, I green up all the front windows, have a big mixing bowl full of goodies for them to grab a handful of. We do get the odd strange people calling, that I’ve never seen before but its all in good fun.
When the sprog was younger we had duck apples and pumpkin pie, halloween parties, all great fun, luckily for me, our new sprog will soon be able to enjoy it as well, its important to show her traditions that I had when I was a kid.

Member
Phil says:
31 October 2011
Member

Hi Phil, we generally ask people to provide a bit more context when pasting external links, but as this story is so relevant I’ve published the link. Here’s an excerpt to give a taster of what it’s about:

“One in five people would support a ban on trick or treating this year in light of the recent riots in cities across England, according to a survey.

Some 22% took the view that the tradition should not take place this year, while 50% would introduce mandatory parental accompaniment.”

Member
cmf0530 says:
31 October 2011

I am British but spent my childhood living in the states and I can’t think of a more imaginative and community based holiday. In the states, Halloween is about meeting your neighbours, being creative with costumes and just having fun getting in the spirit of the holidays. I am sorry for the man who had bleach thrown on him, that’s horrible and I hope you reported it to the police. Let’s hope it was an isolated incident and imagine not all children today act like this.

I have very fond memories of Halloween and if you have children, it’s a great way to get them involved with arts and craft activities and learning based events in your neighbourhood. Yes, there are pros and cons to Halloween, and if you are going out with your children you should be safe and of course be respectful to those who may not want to participate.

In my mind it’s a harmless holiday however I do agree with many of the complaints above. You will find rotten kids out there and if you don’t live in a neighbourhood you feel safe to participate, don’t open your door. Why not go out for the night or post a sign on your door that says ‘no more candy’ or ‘no trick-or-treaters please’. Simple as that.

I am in my late twenties now and don’t go out trick-or-treating or dress up but I don’t think we shouldn’t provide the same opportunity to the next generation. And if you can’t come to terms with this American Hallmark money-making holiday, just remember… it’s just one night.

Member

I can completely see why some people hate halloween – there are many things these days that are genuinely scary about it. Eric’s example is a horrible and extreme example of this. I’m completely with Hannah on this that behaviour of that sort should absolutely be reported to the police.

However, I think there are situations in which Halloween can be done as a nice celebration of community, as Hannah says. But the key thing is to make sure that people in your community are prepared. When I was very young (about 6 or 7, I think) a family of Americans moved onto our road and were determined to do Halloween properly. They knocked on the doors of the houses (around half of whom had children) and concocted a plan with homes that wanted to take part. They then arranged different things with those houses (e.g. my mum dressed up as a witch and had a cauldron full of shredded newspaper, with a ‘lucky dip’ of sweets, someone else made hot chocolate for the end of the trick or treating).

It was a really nice event – everyone who wanted to join in could, and we made sure not to knock on the houses who had asked us not to. It was a really fun evening, with about 10 houses agreeing to take part – all of them made an effort (as did we children!) and it was a lovely, fun way to meet our neighbours and celebrate a bit of a silly holiday.

I’d be all in favour of joining in if families along my street wanted to do this, and I’d happily contribute a few sweets (or perhaps some cupcakes – I love making cupcakes!) to children who came to the door. But sadly I suspect that if I do get any callers they’re far more likely to be teenagers in last-minute masks, in which case they’ll get a ‘sorry’ and a closed door from me.

Member
justin bieber says:
31 October 2014

i hate halloween because people sock you in the face and murder you

Member
anonymous lady says:
18 October 2017

How dare you!!

Member
N Luv With Halloween says:
27 October 2017

Halloween is for community gatherings and sweet treats for our children. And if some wannabe Justin Bieber says its bad, who cares.