So did many others around the world. In recent years, the tradition of going door to door for candy handouts has gained popularity in other countries where Trick-or-Treating was unheard of just ten years ago.
I present for your reading enjoyment three tales of Halloween experiences yesterday, as relayed to me by family members:
Experience #1, Central California
In small towns, people often know their neighbors. People go out of their way to embrace social events like Halloween. Homeowners carve pumpkins and display fun and/or scary decorations. Kids walk the streets of their neighborhoods and show off their costumes while collecting enough candy to rot teeth and screw up blood sugar levels for weeks to come.
In particularly rural areas, neighborhoods are not built with sidewalks. This combined with longer distances between homes results in many children being driven around by their parents for the evening. Last evening, however, something different happened: children by the mini-van load were driven from their rural areas to the more sidewalk friendly subdivisions and dropped off. Last night 4 large variety bags of candy which usually is more than enough suddenly vanished in 55 minutes.
Everybody likes a good turnout, but is it fair that certain neighborhoods become magnets for outsiders? Is it reasonable that kids be driven to the best neighborhoods for trick-or-treat, or is part of the charm of the holiday that we encourage socialization on our own streets?
Experience #2, Central Mid-South
(Wikipedia: Mid-South is a colloquial name for the region centered on the Memphis Metropolitan Statistical Area. It includes portions of West Tennessee, northern Mississippi and northeastern Arkansas, as well as the Missouri Bootheel and extreme northwestern Alabama)
The difference between neighborhoods of the same large city can be noticeable. Some areas are filled with friendly neighbors while others are what I like to call "slam-click" neighborhoods. A slam-click neighborhood is one where people come home from work, slam their door closed, and click the lock.
This story takes place in a slam-click subdivision. A single large variety bag of candy was purchased. Unfortunately the doorbell rang only 4 times all night. Not one single trick-or-treater was in costume. Not one. A quick look around the neighborhood revealed that only about every 7th house was accepting trick-or-treaters. The night ended with most of the bag of candy untouched.
How sad is that?
Later, the news carried a story about groups of parents who gathered in local parking lots to do trunk trick or treating: kids walked from car to car, trunk to trunk, with their baskets to receive candy handouts.
How sad is that?
Experience #3, Central Europe
As many of you may know, the U.S. stations hundreds of thousands of military members around the world. In many locations there exist miniature cities-- complete with schools, stores, bowling allies, fast food restaurants, etc. Besides active duty personnel, civilian employees & spouses & children make up the population. While many live in government housing, many more live "on the economy".
Apparently last night there were many trick-or-treaters. Many were American kids living in neighboring apartments. Others were Polish kids whose fathers are stationed at the joint US/NATO base. Others were German and Turkish kids who have learned about Halloween from generations of Americans. And still more were Russian and other kids from eastern European countries that have moved into neighborhoods across the train tracks (both literally and figuratively) in recent years. The afternoon and evening began normally-- young children, some alone and some in groups or with parents, range the doorbell and received candy. After about 8:30 or so the visitors became noticeably rougher and more aggressive, demanding rather than asking.
The older German couple next door had just arrived home from holiday earlier that afternoon and were not answering their door. This is their right-- they were busy unpacking and had not purchased candy for the evening. Unfortunately, sometime during the night their front steps had been graffitied with the words "Fuck You". The words were in English, but let's be honest-- they could have been written by anyone. English vulgarity is fairly universal worldwide.
Trick-or-Treat. The name says it all-- give me a treat or else I will play a trick on you. But what is considered an acceptable treat these days? Should the trick include vandalism? Vulgarity? Inconvenience? What would be an acceptable trick in lieu of a treat? Making noise? Soap or oil on the doorknob? Toilet paper in the tree (think house instead of apartment)? At what point does the line get crossed between funny and unacceptable?
Here's a question for you: What "tricks" did you play on Halloween as a child (or other similar holiday if Halloween was not common where you grew up); and what would you consider to be an acceptable "trick" today?