A Halloween tradition for children in many countries around the globe, trick-or-treating has seen some changes over the years but continues on in some form or fashion. The event takes place on Halloween night and, generally involves costumed children walking through the neighborhood knocking on their neighbors’ doors. Upon answering the door, the homeowner is posed with a decision, not just a question.
“Trick or treat?” the child asks. The adult then usually doles out candy, cookies, other sweets, apples or even money to the youngster. This offering is, in one way, a contractual agreement that the kid will not play a trick on the home owner. Though tricks are not commonly actually carried out, the tricks were usually played on those who refused to answer the door.
Getting Ready for Trick-or-Treating
This has become quite an event, with stores putting up Halloween displays around Thanksgiving and sometimes earlier. There are a wide variety of Halloween costumes to choose from, and they change each year depending what’s trendy that season. The traditional looks include anything spooky or frightening. Some popular costumes that have lasted through the years are ghosts, vampires and other types of monsters. Some of the less macabre costume choices include princesses and superheroes. Each year whatever trends have recently popped up often make their way into the Halloween costume department—from comic book action heroes or villains, to video game figures or even popular singing or acting celebrities.
Some costumes are elaborate and some are more of a made at home, thrown together at the last minute look. Other options involve using make up to create a painted face or fake, bleeding injuries. Whatever the final outcome, the costume is the foundation for the candy hunt.
Taking It to the Streets
Since at least the 1950’s, in the United States, the tradition of trick-or-treating has been a part of Halloween festivities. Individual homes and entire neighborhoods would prepare for the holiday by decorating. A decorated home was usually a sign that trick-or-treaters were welcomed. Some home owners, though, choose to either be away for the night, or hide away inside with the lights off. This only makes them prime targets for getting a trick later as punishment. Tricks are less common now, but once consisted of activities like soaping windows, or redecorating a home with eggs or toilet paper.
A single child and parent or larger groups of disguised children go to each door and ask for treats to prevent the person from getting a trick. At the end of the night parents and children return home to take stock of the goodies collected in their pillow case, bag or plastic pumpkin.
Safety for Trick-or-Treating
Anytime there are children running around in costumes at night asking strangers for candy, there is reason for concern. Safety precautions must be made. Some of these start before leaving the house to begin trick-or-treating. Choosing a costume that doesn’t obstruct a child’s eyesight or could cause him or her to trip is the first priority. Some parents also opt to include some type of reflective material or device to make the youngster easier to spot. Parent and child should each have a flashlight, as well.
Once wild on the street, it is advisable to keep the child close by and not allow them to run. Watching for traffic is another concern, and drivers on Halloween night should also be alert to potential hazards. When going into homes, the parent should accompany the youngster. And any poorly lit areas should be illuminated by flashlight.
At the end of the night, as eager at the child may be to tear into their stash, parents must first inspect all the gathered goodies. Candy wrappers must not appear tampered with, baked goods should be checked for odd odors and apples should but sliced before serving. While not common, there have been cases of poisoned candy or apples with razor blades inside. It isn’t about being paranoid, it’s about being safe.
How It Has Changed
In more recent years, the methods used for trick-or-treating have changed in some areas. In order to avoid being on the streets, some parents have chosen different ways of celebrating Halloween. This is especially true in more rural areas where going house to house isn’t feasible. Some parents host Halloween parties on that night. Some places, like malls, often participate in giving out candies so children can still go door to door, but in a safer, well lit area.
However one chooses to do their trick-or-treating, the idea is to be safe and have fun. Giving kids the chance once a year to dress up in costumes and collect candy is a fun part of growing up.