On yesterday’s Halloween post, fellow cold-toast eater and bloggy friend, Loth, pointed out that:
Halloween is also a very long-standing tradition here in Scotland. We dressed up and went out as children, only back then it wasn’t called trick or treat (drat you pesky north americans!), it was called “guising”. When you knocked at your neighbour’s door, you didn’t just shout “Trick or treat” and expect sweets, you had to perform a party piece – a song, a joke or a poem. The local kids round here still all write a song and perform a sort of group dance on the doorstep – really cool!
Then she goes on to say that they didn’t have pumpkins, so they used to carve turnips.
This is an actual traditional Irish turnip jack-o-lantern that now lives in the Museum of Country Life in Ireland.
Apparently, Halloween is a lot of hard work in foreign countries and used to be a lot of work around here in the olden days, too.
Up until maybe the last 30 years, kids in North America were expected to perform before getting candy. And they all carried UNICEF boxes to collect spare change for kids less fortunate. Whatever happened to UNICEF boxes? And whatever happened to kids working a little for their candy?
Some really old people still ask the kids to sing for them before giving them that yummy home-made popcorn ball wrapped in waxed paper that get thrown in the trash as soon as the kid gets home because it probably contains pins and razor blades. Of course the kids just look at the old codger or coochie like they’re completely bonkers and run away.
Somewhere along the line kids got wise to the fact that singing and reciting Halloween poetry at every house takes up a lot of valuable candy collecting time. Now kids don’t even know that performing was ever part of the whole Halloween schtick. Now they barely say ”trick-or-treat” or even “hello”. Now they just race around the neighbourhood hitting only the most well-lit and best decorated houses whose front door isn’t too far from the sidewalk.
When I say “race”, I don’t mean that in a figurative sense, I mean they literally race. They’re running full out. They push by other kids. They jostle for position on the front step of the house. If there are a lot of kids at the door already, they just run on by the house – it would take too long to wait behind all those kids. They may start out the evening with a group of friends, but if a friend can’t keep up they get left behind.
There’s no time to waste. They run up to the door, hope the homeowner is ready with a handful of candy so they don’t have to ring the bell, or godforbid, knock. They’re too out of breath to say anything, so they just hold open their sacks, get their stuff and run off. Most of the little ones still manage to yell out a “thank you” as they stumble off to the next house. The rest just flee in silence.
A lot of parents follow their kids in a car or wait at the end of the block for them. In the back seat is a large Tupperware storage container so the kids can dump their sack at the end of every block. No kid wants to carry a 20 pound sack around all night – especially not since the tradition of shelling out cans of pop or those triangular plastic bags of coloured fluid became popular.
Seriously, what are people thinking giving kids cans of pop on Halloween? Or apples? Or oranges? No kid a) wants fruit for Halloween; and b) wants to carry around a couple of kilos of fruit; and c) would be allowed to eat that fruit even if they wanted to. Just stop it.
And stop with the home-made stuff, too. It’s nice to mentally live in the 1940s and wrap up fudge and cookies and rice crispy squares to give to the kiddies, but these are pretty much guaranteed to go into the bin. It’s a waste. Sure, these nice people are probably not baking cookies with rat poison in them, but who knows? Save the baked goodies for close friends.
I hope kids are still enjoying Halloween despite the new fast-paced trick-or-treating and the dangerous treats and the potentially dangerous people lurking in the dark. And I hope the weather is nice. Right now they’re saying a high of 15 degrees (60 F) which is great, but also a 60% chance of rain, which would suck.