By Lisa Brunette
Halloween took its first fatal hit for me in the 1980s, when gossip about razor blades in apples gave my parents alarm. However, this was simply a continuation of a string of urban myths that started in the 1950s and continued through subsequent decades. The myths themselves derived from cases of homicide in which the murderer tried to cover up his crime by claiming poison came from trick-or-treat candy, or drug 'accidents' perpetrated by children who got into their parents' stash, the adults attempting to deflect blame on stranger's candy. You can read more about this over at the Halloween Love blog.
More recently, Halloween has either suffered from or been improved by, you be the judge, our cultural preoccupation with taking offense. One must carefully think through one's choice of Halloween costume, or suffer grave consequences from offended parties, of which there are potentially many these days. Our traditional (stereotypical) depiction of witches is no longer OK, cultural identity costumes are far too risky, and even costumes once regarded as staples amongst the trick-or-treating set are no longer allowed. Yet somehow the sexy-costume tendency for women and those who identify as women is still a huge selling point.
Then COVID happened, and it seemed Halloween was definitely doomed, as in-person contact with other human beings, especially where the sharing of foodstuffs is concerned, no longer seemed possible.
Yet six-foot-long candy-delivery chutes came into play, though their efficacy is doubtful. Parents turned to 'trunk or treat' events, where everyone knows each other by affiliation with a particular school or church or non-profit group, thereby eliminating the stranger aspect of the danger. Folks opt for block parties instead of the traditional trick-or-treating. And many just put on another mask... over their mask.
In our own neighborhood, an inner-ring suburb whose roots as its own town date back to 1908, Anthony and I no longer host a single trick-or-treater. This is an older-style mixed-use kinda burg, with hair salons, auto shops, and even a couple of lawyers hanging out their shingles in between both single-family homes like ours and apartment buildings. A lot of families move here for the family-friendly walkability. But on October 31st, no one comes to our door, and that makes me a little sad.
In all fairness, there's a block party one street over, and that's the huge draw. But I still miss the door-to-door tradition.
What's Halloween like in your neck of the woods? Is trick-or-treating dead, or merely on life support? Tell us in the comments below.
By the way, before you go accusing us of cultural appropriation for the Day of the Dead-style skull depicted here, Anthony bought it. His mother was born in Chihuahua, Mexico.
Lisa's Frugal Tip of the (Holi)day
Also, the absolute BEST time to buy Halloween swag is AFTER the holiday ends the previous year. So if I were you, I'd take this opportunity to check out the sales going on now in the Etsy holiday shops. I often find swag at anywhere from 50 to 75 percent off, just post-big event.
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