Smile Politely

Some thoughts on Halloween

A lighted jack-o-lantern with two large eyes, a small nose, and a large smiling mouth.

It’s Halloween, and this evening kids of all ages and their caregivers will take to the sidewalks of C-U and beyond to, in the words of Jerry Seinfeld, “get candy, get candy, get candy.”

Have you ever read up on the history of trick-or-treating? It’s come a long way from this:

During some Celtic celebrations of Samhain, villagers disguised themselves in costumes made of animal skins to drive away phantom visitors; banquet tables were prepared and food was left out to placate unwelcome spirits. 

In later centuries, people began dressing as ghosts, demons and other malevolent creatures, performing antics in exchange for food and drink. This custom, known as mumming, dates back to the Middle Ages and is thought to be an antecedent of trick-or-treating.

to dressing up like Spiderman and Barbie and filling buckets with “fun-sized” Snickers and Airheads.

Our Editorial Board members have a variety of levels of interest in the holiday, but we all have some opinions on how it should be celebrated, particularly in regards to the tradition of trick-or-treating. So, in honor of this All Hallows’ Eve, we offer our thoughts on Halloween. 

Trick-or-Treating should always happen on a weekend

When Halloween falls on a weekday, as it does this year, it makes things stressful for everyone. To accommodate folks getting home from work, the hours are set from 6 to 8 p.m., but it is still a lot to leave work, get kids from their child care situations, get them fed, get them costumed, and head out to houses. Then parents and guardians are tasked with bringing those kids down from their Halloween highs and into bed at a decent time, because of school early the next morning. If our cities mutually agreed to set hours on the weekends, it would relieve some of that pressure. Typically, when Halloween naturally falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the hours are set from 5 to 7 p.m. This is how it should be every year. 

Everyone gets candy

There should be no gatekeeping when it comes to who gets candy. Teenagers? Yes. Let them be kids as long as they want to. Adults who are pushing around a baby in costume? Why not? Of course the one-year-old is not going to eat those Twizzlers. It’s fine. We’re also not going to complain about kids who don’t live in your neighborhood trick-or-treating at your house. If you live in a place with well-lit streets and sidewalks, where families feel safe, be thankful and enjoy all the cute kiddos. 

It’s okay if you don’t turn your light on

If you don’t turn your light on and invite trick-or-treaters to your door, that’s okay. There are myriad reasons that it doesn’t work for you: you have a crazy dog, there aren’t a ton of kids around anyway, you have a fear of costumes, you just don’t feel like it…all are valid. 

People’s cultures are not costumes

It sucks to still be saying this in 2023, but it is harmful to dress up in a way that perpetuates negative or racist stereotypes, or involves you changing the color of your skin to mirror a race or ethnicity that is not yours.There are so many creative ways to dress up for Halloween, there is no reason for it.

Halloween fun that doesn’t require visiting houses

If you’re looking for a few things to do beyond going door to door, or additional spots to show off your costume, here are a few options:

For just adults:

Andrew Pritchard is telling us that the weather is going to be trash today, so whatever you do, be sure to bundle up. 

The Editorial Board is Jessica Hammie, Louise Knight-Gibson, Julie McClure, Patrick Singer, and Serenity Stanton Orengo.

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