Thursday, October 6, 2011

Hallowe'en, Back Then

Via rich701 on Flickr.

For as long as I've been alive, and even before that, Halloween has always been given a certain amount of flack. You get those that say it glorifies the darkness (as if that's a bad thing), you get others that call it the Devil's holiday (though the only devils I've ever met on this day have been kids in costumes) and you get numerous others who worry about various terrible things befalling children on this night; razor blades in candy, axe murderers in the neighborhood, kidnappings... the list could go on and on.

For me, however, Hallowe'en has always been about fun. Who can help but love a holiday where you can be anything your heart desires, even if it's only for one night? Sure, some folks will say it's wrong for kids to want to be a witch or a vampire or anything under the sun for various reasons, really. And to them I say, 'pfft!'. I'll level with you all here; when I was a kid, I never dressed up as a witch. Not once. But, I still turned out to be one. A Hallowe'en costume is not a fated path, folks.

But I digress. This holiday is about letting loose, having fun and maybe getting some free candy while you're at it. It's about crawling through corn mazes, bobbing for apples, picking pumpkins and maybe giving yourself a scare or two, in the form of movies or haunted houses, just for fun! And it's all those things that make me nostalgic for the Hallowe'en I remember growing up with.

Found on Wikimedia Commons

Every year, every house in my neighborhood would decorate their yard and home in preparation of the upcoming parade of ghoulish candy seeking goblins. Some folks were more elaborate, building entire graveyard sets or haunted paths, while others settled for a few leaf bags in the shape of pumpkins or paper ghosts in the trees. The point is, not a single house went without a pumpkin, at the very least. It was magical to walk through the neighborhood to see what lie in store for us at the end of the month, while we pondered what we were going to be this year.

When the night finally came all the neighborhood kids would get together. Those who were too young to wander unsupervised would all pile in the back of someone's huge SUV or truck to be taken around by some of the parents while the older kids raced from house to house, using a strategic plan that would net them the best candy. Because as we all know, the houses that give out full size bars are always best! Only once or twice did we come across a house without the front light on, or a bowl that was devoid of candy sitting on the porch. Folks would compliment us on how scary, creative or pretty our costumes were as they handed out our sugar laden treasure and we'd frequently take breaks on the curb sides to nibble away bits of our well earned loot.

At the end of the night we'd all trundle back to our parents, at whichever house they had gathered at, swap our favorite candies, give mom and dad a piece or two before drifting off to bed with visions of goblins floating in our heads.

Now it seems that magic is starting to die off, which seems strange to me considering how open minded we've become since my childhood and the fact that in a lot of places, child related crimes have *decreased* not increased. Kids go to parking lots or malls to 'trick or treat', parents vigilantly check candy packages for pins, needles and all manner of horrific things and toss away any home made treats the kids may have gotten along the way. Many a house is devoid of pumpkins, paper ghosts and candy, many choosing to leave their lights off on Hallowe'en night. Of the houses that do put their lights on, there is always at least one or two who hand out Chick Tracts or other pamphlets letting children know that celebrating this holiday will land them a one way ticket to Hell. I often wish people would tell me where these folks lived, so I could have a little heart to heart with their crazy asses; I can think of no greater evil that exists on Hallowe'en night than the attempt to terrify children into your way of thinking.

When I walk the neighborhood, with the leaves crunching underfoot thinking about my Hallowe'ens past I get angry and then I get sad. I get angry that despite great leaps and bounds for us in some areas, we are back peddling about a secular holiday. Yes, as a witch I celebrate Hallowe'en and Samhain as two separate entities - one for the love of fun and the other for the love of my Gods and honored dead. I worry that soon the magic of this holiday will only remain in the hearts of we grown children and will be lost entirely on current and future children. And I can think of nothing more heart-rending than the loss of this long celebrated, wonderful night.

Via IMLS DCC on Flickr.

Hat tip to Lyn at Witch Blog and her recent guest poster, Grandfather Oak for stirring the Hallowe'en memory Cauldron for me and inspiring this post.


  1. Lyn seems to be doing a lot of tipping lately... I just thought about El Dia de los Muertos back home in the Dominican Republic. We used it to clean the graves of family members and friends who had passed on. It was always a blast... all the foods the deceased liked best, music, rum for the grown ups and dancing for all.

    The good old days...

    P.S. Don't forget to check out my Spooky Beauty for All Hallow's Eve Giveaway ;-)

  2. Yep, it always makes me a little sad too. Used to I'd set up my fortune teller booth out front of the house and the kids would line up and giggle and squeal and be here forever watching others getting there palms read (red) literally. (I shall share that post tomorrow) But last year......only 20 kids were in the neighborhood. And every year it has gotten thinner and thinner with trick or treaters. So many of the old folks around here don't have lights on and I guess it isn't worth it to come into the neighborhood anymore. So no booth this year and I have all these fortune fish and red paint....what to do, what to do. Oma Linda

  3. The whole poisoned candy/razor blade laden apples "epidemic" never happened. Seriously. I read some research on it, and only once in the U.S. did a kid get poisoned candy on Oct.31 (and he died from it). Guess who did it? HIS FATHER. Otherwise, it's just another urban legend. I love telling people this when they say it's too "dangerous" for kids to ToT.

    I, too, am sad that so many people choose to be Halloween Scrooges. Especially here in the South (don't you just love Southern Baptists?!) lots of people don't let their kids participate. I never remember the religious people being like that when I was a kid. My childhood neighborhood was FILLED with trick or treaters, generous neighbors, and decorated houses/yards. Somehow lots of people seem to have become really conservative a$$holes since those days. I always decorate my house and yard, and whenever my neighbors decide to ignore the holiday, I just give the kids extra candy to make up for it. Gotta represent! :)

    I am also happy to report that this year there seem to be several new neighbors with young families in my neighborhood, and I've already counted a dozen or more houses fully decked out for Halloween. So maybe it is making a comeback!

  4. Oh have the booth anyway...let the ones who come have a good don't have to have lots to enjoy yourself...

    Sounds like fun to me...shall I send you my palm to read...

  5. Oh, and the churches just take over the celebration (like they always have). The kids down here all go to church on Halloween for "Harvest Parties" and "Trunk or Treat" (or, as I like to call it "Come, little children, and learn that it's ok and fun to accept candy from the trunks of adult's cars! Cause that's not creepy AT ALL). I can't think of anything sadder than a little kid going to CHURCH on Halloween instead of trick or treating.

  6. Danni...this post is so nostalgic...and you are wonderful at painting the picture...Thank you...

  7. Oh man I feel like I've gone back in time ^_^ thanks for sharing this!

  8. It is sad to think about the past of trick or treating and Halloween knowing what it looks like today. It's not just parents either, kids are losing interest way younger than they did when I was young. I mean I trick or treated until I was 15 or 16, and only stopped then because I kept getting dirty looks.

    A great post though. I want to find the pictures of me in my Gem and the Holograms costume to share. I will have to work on that. :)

  9. Betsy, I'm not going to lie - I trick or treated until I was 24. The plus side to having a sister 10 years younger than you are is that you always have a token child to take with you. ;)

    As for the kids, is trick or treating really that uncool? I mean seriously? Who doesn't love free candy?

  10. Hmmmm....I may have to show this photo to my mom...I have that exact to the T costume from when I was about that size still in a closet at my parent's....creeeepy hehehe
    Anywhoo, I LOVE Hallowe'en to and still say if there's a chance I'd want to fight for it to be an actual paid day off type of holiday LOL If I had enough friends who would join me (and that being even just one!) I'd still go trick - or - treating! I'm dressing up this year since I work that night though at least hehe Going all out this year for a zombie character LOL
    I cannot WAIT to have kids to take them trick - or - treating too!

  11. I too celebrate Halloween and Samhain as two separate entities. However, we get so many trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood I think we buy upwards of 500-600 pieces of candy. It starts as soon as the kids get off the bus and ends at 9pm curfew. The adults in my neighborhood get dressed up too and it is a great time had by all. I noticed when I did my time in the South it was very different down there.

  12. I love this post. I LOVE Halloween.....always have and always will!! If I could get away with it Halloween would be my BIG holiday instead of Christmas....but my daughter would rather have Santa visit instead of trick or treating....hmmmmm how can I make Halloween better than Santa???! How about you guys??? I need to really start decorating the yard more....this post has gotten me even more excited about Halloween! I do wish we had more kids around here though....and not so many old people that don't celebrate it....dang that is sad.....ok sorry this comment has gotten way too long. I guess I need to write about this on my blog too.....

  13. Wanted to let you know I've fallen behind on my Countdown daily posting :o( So much going on. So I've taken down the button on my blog.

    Great post! I'll never lose my Halloween Spirit, regardless of the rest of the world!

  14. I completely agree with you on how sad it is that Halloween celebration doesn't seem as prevalent as it used to be. Our neighborhood used to be overrun with we get MUCH less. Many houses around me have maybe a pumpkin or two - its now a real treat to see any with a fantastic setup, when before it was totally more common! It bums me out because it was such a special event as a kid [to me, it still is!] and I feel as though kids today are missing out.

    I guess as long as we keep it going, Halloween will live on! :)


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