This year it happened. I always swore that one year I would turn the porch light on and there would be no kids trick or treating. Yes, this year it happened. I will remember 2013 as the year Halloween died. Now it was raining and there was some fog and, of course, Halloween was celebrated on a school day. But there had to have been some children out there? At least I thought so.
I packed up the candy and send it with my daughter to my grandchildren’s grade school. It bothered me for days as I tried to analyze what had happened. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I live in a changing area. Changing in the sense that the residents are now multi-cultural! I don’t think people of Asian or Indian background know or understand what Halloween is? I know my Arab neighbor thinks that we are all crazy as he has told me that, “we do not give out food.” I have tried to explain that it is candy and not food that we are giving out.
As our American cities and neighborhoods change with new nationalities moving in, it is not quite the same as it was maybe 100 years ago. Italians, Germans, and Irish adapted to our culture and became more a part of it. I don’t think this is the case today with the Chinese, Koreans, Arabs, or Indians.
The word Halloween is a shortening of All Hallows Evening. Halloween had its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain which is the celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture. In some American states, the practice is often referred to as “Beggars Night.” Trick or Treating resembles the late medieval practice of “souling,” when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas (November 1st) receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2nd). The earliest known Western celebration of Halloween occurred in Kingston, Ontario in 1911. Halloween did not become a widespread practice in the United States until the 1930s. Sugar rationing during World War II stalled Halloween from April 1942 until June of 1947. Children in the 1940’s era announced their presence by saying “help the poor” and not “trick or treat.”
Whether Halloween survives or not is questionable. As fewer people participate in the door to door aspect of Halloween, schools are offering small parties where children can safely wear costumes and eat candy that is safe. The scare of doctoring food and treats nearly eliminated Halloween in some areas back in the 1980s. It was suggested to parents that they discard any candy that was open or home made. Sad, but the threat outweighed the benefits. I am not sure if I will be giving out candy next year or not. The number of children in my neighborhood that go door to door has dropped significantly but we did get over 100 years of Halloween in America.