I have just bought my Halloween candy for the trick or treaters and it got me reflecting on changes throughout the years.
When I was a youngster my mother had a trunk in the attic with various Halloween costumes; a clown, gypsy, witch and other odds and ends. A few days before halloween my sisters and I would sort through the trunk for our costumes. I remember on the day of halloween carrying a bag to school with my costume for our school party which was held in the afternoon. While we were at school my mother would prepare the treats she would be passing out that evening. She would fix packages of loose candy wrapped in a napkin and tied with larger packages going to our friends and immediate neighbors. There were no miniature candy bars sold then. Most of the treats we collected were candy corn wrapped in packages, peanut butter kisses, suckers, apples, pennies and chocolate bars. Also when going house to house we called in unison, “Help the poor.” We would start begging when it got dark outside coverd a five block area, teturning home around nine P.M. We were a large group of kids (no parents going out with us) and we and our parents felt safe.
When my children were little one parent always walked with their children and their friends with their parent. By then candy manufacturers got wiser and sold all kinds of candy individually wrapped and miniature size candy bars. Convenience and necessity brought some of these changes around following a darker side of Halloween. In the 60″s kids celebrated Devil’s night pranks. This included ringing doorbells, soaping windows both house and car, and egging houses. It had gotten so bad that some irate recipients of these pranks started giving nasty things inside the children’s bags. Some even put razor blades inside apples causing serious injury. In Detroit houses were set afire, one year 800 were burned. This was indeed a very dark side of Halloween and we never let our children participate in any type of prank. Parents checked over all candies collected looking for any tampering of treats. Any open wrapper or suspicious treat got thrown out.
Today Halloween is the second largest holiday, after Christmas. Houses are elaborately decorated, parents either walk with their children or drive them to neighborhoods. Kids still eagerly pick out their costumes, and I must say there are some very creative ones. I for one love seeing children dressed up and trick or treating, leaving out the tricks.