Rethinking Halloween

It’s time to rethink Halloween.fullsizerender-1

By now parents have raided their kids’ Halloween bags and squirreled away the goodies they like. Children have bartered their candy, swapping less desirable treats for more favorable brands between their siblings and friends.

As a nation, Americans spent $2.7 billion on candy this season. While customs vary community to community, the basic premise remains: children (often adults too and lots of teenagers), dress in costumes and go door -to -door saying “Trick or Treat.”

Don’t get me wrong. As a kid, I loved Halloween. We made our costumes and my mother would drive us up and down our rural street. As a teenager, I remember visiting thrift shops to put together costumes and going out with friends. My own children loved the holiday and I certainly availed myself of sweets from their haul.

But each year I like this holiday less and less. I grumble when older kids grab handfuls and don’t say thank you and call a mask or some make-up a costume. In one town we lived in, people would drive from all over to invade our street. It was level and well lit, so kids could hit a lot of houses in a short time. Every year we ran out of candy and I’d end up borrowing from my kids’ loot after they returned.

Now hardly anyone comes. Perhaps more people are attending community gatherings. Or our street isn’t as level or as well lit as the previous one. I still buy some candy, just in case, and deliberately select brands I won’t eat myself if left with entire bags.

It’s the leftover candy that’s the problem. Years ago, dentists began a buyback campaign, offering to pay their patients for unopened candy to reduce the increase in tooth decay and obesity. We all know we don’t need extra sugar.

They then donate the candy to charities that distribute the sweets to military based overseas who consume what they want and then give away what remains to local children.

So if all that sugar is bad for US kids, isn’t it equally bad for others?

Let’s rethink Halloween. No one collects for UNICEF (I used to) and apples can’t be given for fear of embedded razor blades. The threat of dangerous objects continues to be a concern. The day after Halloween, a New Jersey newswire reported a few cases of needles and pins found inside candy in several locations. Candy in excess is bad for our health, our kids’ health, our overseas service- peoples’ health and the health of children in foreign countries.

 

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About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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16 Responses to Rethinking Halloween

  1. Drjcwash says:

    I remember collecting for Unicef. The candy is overdone. I took mine to the office and now, everyone is making a visit to get a treat.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Margaret C says:

    Random thoughts:

    I don’t mind trick-or-treat. The candy is “once a year,” and the kids love the costumes, going outside in the dark, trading for favorite candies, etc. Good memories, as you said. I always liked that it was a “non-civic” holiday: no banks closed, no official parameters, just people doing stuff some of which probably dates back to the middle ages or even BCE.

    Right now, we are once again in a community where a LOT of outside kids come for trick-or-treat. It’s pretty orderly, they’re pleasant and cute, and quite a few even say thank you. I don’t so much like giving candy to adults and babies, but oh well. Where we live, my guess is that the kids’ own neighborhoods are less safe, less open, and/or less lucrative. No harm, no foul in my opinion. Some neighbors choose to be “not home,” and that works too.

    Our town (like all nearby towns) has a prescribed 3-hour, daylight trick-or-treat period, which seems very weird to me (see above about the “non-civic” nature of Halloween). For the kids on our own block (or 2), we also have an evening t/t, “the way it ought to be,” and then I give out apples in addition to the candy, because the parents will know they’re OK coming from a neighbor.

    Sometimes people who don’t like Halloween (or trick-or-treat) choose to have a party instead. Lots of fun, esp. if you’re a guest instead of the host! One of our Jersey neighbors did that, with bobbing for apples and all that (omg, I suppose that was 15-20 years ago now…). My sister and BIL did the same in the real dark ages (1950s, 60s), because BIL didn’t want his kids “begging.” Or we can always just “not be home.”

    But the leftover candy, oh my yes! I “never” keep candy in the house, and this year I way over-bought. Can’t wait for Mark to get back to town and take some of it to the office!

    All best, Lisa! I always enjoy your blog, and marvel at all you do!! mc

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks, Margaret. Miss you! If neighborhoods can control it, it’s basically harmless. I just hate the idea of giving candy to people who need it the least.

    Like

  4. Summer Daisy says:

    Loved reading your thoughts on Halloween♥

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You didn’t even describe the year that I dressed you and Naomi as Mother Hubbard and her dog.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. jfrances40 says:

    Amen, Lisa! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I agree that the holiday seems less wholesome than in the past. And all that candy is not good for anyone.. i don’t celebrate Halloween but growing up we had some candy stashed away just in case someone came by. One year we got egg on our window whoops! Seems a little greedy (“trick or treat”) but then again I say let kids have fun if that’s their fun who am I to argue.? But these days I see adults dressing up and I wonder wasn’t it a kids holiday? Anyway, …..I’m rambling. :). Interesting post.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. THIS is the kind of debate I favor, in the light of the current campaign overrunning our country!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pat Skene says:

    I think you’re on to something, but not sure kids would agree. My family and I were just discussing this very same thing. Collective thinking needed here.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Halloween in Nashville was a happening. My daughter and friends had dinner first and then went out with babies and preschoolers in the dark. Last I was doing this holiday, 30 years ago?, we were reversing the order – first trick or treating in the daylight. Then of course not eating dinner. It’s my kids favorite holiday still, and I’m not sure why?!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I think you’re right about what Halloween has become, although I am very happy to give candy to anyone who is willing to put on a costume and ask politely. But Halloween at our house was all about the dressing up, the pretty orange, purple, and green lights, the gathering of friends, the telling of stories. We can make it anything we want it to be, and what our kids and grandkids grow up with will be considered normal. One of the reasons I love Thanksgiving better than Hanukkah or Christmas (we celebrate both), is because the emphasis is on thankfulness and family, has nothing to do with presents. It is really a hard holiday to commercialize. But again, it is up to us what we will emphasize and how we will celebrate in our own home.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Yes, I love Thanksgiving too. Halloween has just become too commercial — celebrations at home are great and it’s fun for kids to have a chance to dress up.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’ve never gotten into Halloween, and always dreaded the time of year I had to figure out costumes for my kids. We’d go to two blocks, max, then come home and count the candy, which I then threw in the freezer for the next year! 🙂 but now my kids are really into it for their young children. I have to admit, I have fun watching my grandkids and their friends running to the homes in their neighborhood in the almost dark shouting’trick or treat’! Memories they’ll never forget.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Yes, fun watching the little ones being so excited to participate.

    Like

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