Last night was Halloween and as my Facebook and Instagram feeds showed me, Trick or Treating is certainly still going on in 2018. After putting my own children to bed, I enjoyed clicking “like, love and haha” while viewing pictures of my friends’ little ones. But I can’t help but think, “Trick or treating isn’t what it used to be!”
I’m a child of the 80s and 90s and have fond memories of going around my childhood neighborhood in packs that filled the sidewalks. We’d anxiously wait out turns at the front doors of our neighbors. It seemed like a real treat if you got to pick out more than one or two candies at any single house. After all, this was THE night of the year for a parent-approved sugar rush.
These days, it seems like more and more people are opting out of the Halloween night tradition. For every 5 pictures I saw of costumed kiddos, I also saw a few people lamenting that they had bought TOO much candy. They hardly had any kids visit their houses. My own experience was something similar. This is my 5th Halloween as a homeowner and 3rd as a mom, so the excitement of trick or treating is still there for my family. But we’re certainly not getting the number of trick or treaters that I remember from my childhood. With my oldest being 2, we were only out until a little after 7, yet people were already telling us, “Oh, take a few! Here, take some for Mom and Dad! Here’s a little something for the baby, too!” There were no fears of running out of candy.
I saw a Facebook post stating that the size and quality of treats handed out on Halloween is a good indicator of the state of the economy. The accompanying picture shows an abundance of King-size candy bars mixed in with the Fun-size minis. This could be a sign of a booming economy. Or, it could just mean that many people realize they don’t get the number of trick or treaters that they used to. If you only need to get candy in the hands of 25 sugar-hungry kids compared to the 100 kids that knocked on your doors 10 years ago, you can afford to get the bigger sized treats.
So what has caused the changes? Like traditions that change over time, it probably can’t be traced to any one thing. Some might say that people don’t feel safe anymore. And in light of recent event in our nation, that can be understandable. But a quick Internet search will confirm there have been very, very few cases of actual Halloween candy tampering.
Could it simply be that neighborhoods have changed over the years? While there are certainly people that still have strong friendships with their neighbors, many people’s friendships reach far further than they used to. This can make it hard to get together on a weeknight. Thirty years ago, just about every kid’s best friend lived within walking distance. Kids today are involved in more activities and just have more opportunities to meet kids outside of their neighborhood. So, you don’t necessarily have that close kinship with the people a few doors down.
Is it that we’re too busy? With the majority of parents working long hours outside of the house, it might be too difficult for parents to get home from work, get a quick dinner on the table, and get the kids out the door at an acceptable time. This is probably the main reason quite a few communities choose to hold trick-or-treating on the weekend before Halloween. (That, and letting kids sleep in the next day.) There's even talk of petitioning to have this changed nationwide. But would that REALLY restore Halloween to its heyday?
I’ve heard a few people comment, “Kids are too lazy to walk around for candy anymore.” With the number of activities most kids I know are involved in, I don't believe that they’re too lazy. In fact, it might be that they’re too busy to walk the neighborhood for candy! Or, it might be a side effect of the instant gratification they’ve become accustomed to.
Are kids growing up too fast? What exactly is the “end date” for trick or treating? I often see posts about how we shouldn’t complain about teenagers that knock on your door for candy. They could be doing far worse things! But are kids trick or treating when they’re “too old” really an issue at all? Or are they deciding to stop on their own at earlier and earlier ages?
Or maybe, this change is something else entirely. And it’s just that Halloween Night is no longer the MAIN event for a lot of families. In the past, you might go to a few parties at your friend’s house and wear your costume to school. (That’s a WHOLE other topic – Halloween at schools!) But to really collect candy, you had to wait for Halloween night. You might see a few churches hosting “Trunk or Treat” events as a safer, non-scary alternative. But they were a rarity. These days, you can trick or treat just about every weekend in October! Churches, schools, community parks, zoos … some kids are filling up their treat bags all month long. So is it simply that by the time Halloween night rolls around, they’re over it?
Well, for now at least, trick or treating on Halloween night is still a tradition for many. So to answer my original question, no, trick or treating isn’t dead. But it definitely seems to be evolving. To what? We don’t really know right now. So until we find out (and as long as they’re willing), I’ll continue to take my kids out on Halloween night. And then I’ll put them to bed and raid the stash … while drinking wine and watching Hocus Pocus.
By Michelle Reese