Halloween is one weird holiday. With its pagan origins, it’s become a full-fledged American celebration for everyone: sexy costumes for adults, monster and princess costumes for kids. No matter who you are, no matter what you’re into, the genius of the Halloween is that there is something to be found for you.
Many folks above the age of twenty lament the fact that Halloween isn’t as good as it was when they were young. Remembering the freedom of their youth, they bemoan the loss of “real” trick-or-treating, where they were left, without parental supervision, to roam the streets of their neighborhoods from dusk to dawn. “These parents these days,” the critiques usually begin, “don’t let their children do anything.” While I agree with their general complaint (as a parent these days I do worry that we’re not doing enough to build our children’s independence and decision-making skills), I have to disagree that the original spirit of Halloween has been lost between generations. This year alone, my 9-year-old attended three Halloween parties PLUS a Halloween “walk” at school and went trick or treating (albeit with his dad). All of these scheduled activities promoted socialization, acceptance and general fun. Compared with my childhood trick-or-treating experiences, involving shaving cream fights, toilet papering and grocery bags of candy all on a single night, I have to say I don’t see any negligible decline in celebrating.
Do I think Halloween has become more commercial? Yes. Do I think that parents today are more nervous and cautious, perhaps to the detriment of their children’s development? Maybe. But do I think October 31st is any worse or better than it used to be? No. It’s just different. And maybe that’s not such a bad thing after all.
On a related note: October 31st is a significant date in our family – not just because of its significance as All Hallow’s Eve. My grandfather, aunt, uncle and now a nephew also celebrate(d) it as a birthday. Now that’s what I call spooky!