My Dad is a proud man. Proud to have made his own way in the world. Proud to have started his own small business and grown it for 40 years. Proud to have moved out of the council estate where he was born and managed to buy himself his own house. He is a man who thoroughly believes that you have to earn whatever you get in life, and that is why, when I was a child, he was dead set against trick-or-treat-ing.
My Dad saw the tradition as an American import, a festival of sugar, and a form of begging in which children walked from door to door asking strangers, his neighbours, for sweets. Now it wasn’t the ‘strangers’ part that he got hung up on, that was my Mum but we’ll come to her later. Instead my Dad objected to me and my brother partaking in the Halloween practice on moral grounds. In his mind it was wrong to ask for something without offering anything in return.
Admittedly, by Dad was brought up in the Thatcher era, full of notions of self-determination, sharp-elbowed trade, and free market principles, and was brought up in a household that had next to nothing and learnt to get by nonetheless, so I can see how he developed such an attitude. But is trick-or-treating something to be scorned? Or is is a way of children learning to interact with their friends and neighbours? Just a little bit of fun on one night a year where kids get to dress up and be silly in the street together?
My Mum certainly didn’t think so. For her, the thought of me and my brother trick-or-treating struck her with visible horror. She’d warned us abut ‘stranger-danger’ countless times and our pleas to be involved in the merriment on the street seemed to fly in the face of all her hard-pressed life lessons. It seems now in retrospect to have been a fairly sensible position, after all two young boys wandering the streets with bedsheets over the heads does seem a little risky in light of busy roads and dark alleys, but I’ve never heard of anything going horribly wrong, and I certainly hadn’t stopped to consider the dangers when I was younger.
I did manage to go trick-or-treating a few times when I was younger, of course in secret collusion with friends, so I can recall the excitement of walking up the driveways and knocking on the doors, the silly business of goofing around in costume, and the grotesquely hedonistic hours of stuffing sugar into our faces afterwards.
I would like to know how you feel about trick-or-treating. If you are a parent, do you place any restrictions on your children’s activities? Will you ensure that you, or a trusted guardian, accompanies them or will you give your children free reign to explore the local area with friends? What age do you think is the appropriate cut-off for the Halloween festivities?
If you’ve got any comments or stories relating to your experience of trick-or-treating, then please leave us a comment and start a conversation with us!