Friday, November 03, 2006

Halloween

I've been trying to decide all week what I think about Halloween, and Anne's post has pretty much summed it up for me! I spent Monday and Tuesday this week trying to decide what I was going to do about the Trick or Treaters. I hate them coming round (it's a relatively new phenomenon in this country, they've only appeared in the last few years). Last year, when I lived in Lincoln, we had some fairly aggressive teenage boy Trick or Treaters round demanding money, and who did damage some decorator's equipment in our porch when we only offered chocolate. Even when it is small children coming round, I don't think it's right that children are encouraged to knock on strangers' doors and ask for sweets. We spend the whole year telling them not to talk to strangers or take sweets from strangers, and then encourage them to do just that on Halloween! Hmm, mixed messages or what?!

It also seems so commercial (presumably that's why it's now so popular over here as it's been heavily promoted by various companies) and an excuse to market more plastic tat at children (and which then mostly ends up in landfill).

The French seem to have the right idea, and, according to this report, Halloween festivities there are on the wane. Ah, if only that would catch on the UK...

Anyway, I considered going to the police station for one of their "No trick or treaters here" posters to put in my window, but thought that might just lead to more problems. Fortunately we had a Guide meeting on Tuesday night, and we'd already decided to go ahead with the meeting to keep the kids off the streets and away from knocking on people's doors. We had a good evening, with a party, fancy dress competition, apple bobbing and soup and hot dogs. The girls had a whale of a time, no one got scared, no one intimidated anyone else, so I think that was a success.

Being at Guides meant I missed the worst of the Trick or Treaters (although I saw some going round in a pack of about 30 as I walked home). I did have two lots at my door before the meeting, two little girls dressed up (accompanied by their Mum), who were rather sweet and very polite, and three teenagers (unaccompanied) who were also polite. They all had some chocolate (although I did feel intimidated enough beforehand to go out and buy a box of little chocolates in, which I resented doing). But I feel very sorry for those people (especially those living on their own) who did get the marauding packs of teenagers at the door later that evening. And what about the elderly on a very limited income who can't afford to go and buy sweets to hand out (and then feel intimidated because they haven't got anything?)

Dilemma: should I have bought the chocolate? By handing out chocolate I've encouraged the kids to think that Trick or Treating is good and they'll be back again next year. But by buying chocolate I've avoided potential eggs thrown at my house/windows/car (parked outside house), flour in my letterbox, doorbell being ripped off, marauding people getting into my back garden and overturning all the tubs...

9 comments:

KnitYoga said...

Like you, I always buy chocolate in for Hallowe'en. One year, I didn't answer the door and our (then new) car was bombarded with eggs which we didn't notice until the next morning. It was a bit annoying having to clean it off as we were rushing to get to work. I think Hallowe'en itself, just like all the other recognised times of the year, is a good thing as it marks a particular period of the year which goes back to ancient times but I do have misgivings about the trick or treat thing.

Seahorse said...

I am very anti Trick or Treat too. We don't have many kids doing it round here but we just don't answer the door. However, I have a large and scary husband and so am at a much better advatage than many people.

I'd love to see it fade away, or at the very least become restricted to those who display decorations, leave lights on etc (ie folk who actively want to join in).

Mary-Lou said...

Not quite true about France any more either ... last weekend when we were there, there were lots of children dressed up in Halloween gear, and clutching goodie bags.

Mary Anne said...

We don't celebrate Halloween at our house anymore and neither do our neighbours, mostly because only 2 or 3 children ever came to the door. But I just don't enjoy it and it makes me uncomfortable to be opening the door to strangers when I wouldn't dream of doing it any other night of the year. Fortunately there are fireworks celebrations sponsored by our city and many people attend that, plus the local shopping malls stay open late and have celebrations with candy, drinks, games, etc.

angie cox said...

Couldn't agree more .It's an entirely new thing to this country and must terrify old folks.I thought of putting my crucifix on the door but it would be a red rag to a bull.

dreamcatcher said...

We don't tend to get anyone ringing the bell, not for a few years, but I don't agree with it at all. In the US it is much more of a community thing, and parents supervise the children. Here it's an excuse for ne'er-do-wells to cause even more mischief.

Penny said...

Luckily we don't get any big gangs around, but it seems the years I remember to buy something, no-one comes, and when I forget, we have lots round.

I can't help thinking that at least retailers put their effort into a foreign tradition, rather then trying to persuade us that we all need to buy lots of expensive effigies to burn, or other guy-fawkes related knick-knacks.

Rain said...

How strange that it seems to be a new thing for a lot of people in the UK. I always went trick or treating when I was in primary school and I don't know anyone who didn't. It was a real community thing with everyone out of doors and having fun. We'd get together and do apple bobbing and stuff like that too.

We only had 2 groups of kids this year and they were little ones.

maylin said...

Interesting report. Now I think of it I didn't see anything in Super U or any of the other French Supermarkets. All the children I know went to parties though organised by the school even though it was the school holidays. Maybe it is different where I live in the countryside but I can't imagine any of the French people I know allowing their children to go knocking on the doors of strangers. Toussaints (All Saints) is the really big festival here with chrysanthemums on sale everywhere for families to take to the cemeteries on the 1st November (which is a public holiday)