Sunday, 19 October 2014

Halloween Traditions Past and Present.

This post is totally a personal post and relating to the United States. It is nearing Halloween. My children have always loved the fun of this day.  I wanted to write my parents story, learn a bit more, and share how it has changed for my children. It was not surprising when my children asked my dad how he dressed up when he was young.  This is his answer.
His most memorable Halloween was when he and about 6 other teenage boys got together and decided to trick one of their "grumpy" neighbors.  His neighbors were not next door like what you think of today, more like miles apart.  I digress, back to the story. 
According to him they would begin thinking up mischievous things to do weeks ahead of Halloween.  They had to have a plan in order to carry out their trick and make a clean get away.  He did not remember any treats associated with Halloween. This is his story.
“We waited until dark and met in the field to carry out our plan (how they did these things I don't know). We carefully lifted up his team of mules up on the top of his shed, quickly dispersed to our homes quietly.  The next day we heard our parents talking about what had happened to Farmer ___.
We didn’t own up to anything, because we’d get a whipping.” (If it were my boys, there would have been serious consequences). He said no one ever  told.

“The other farmer we just moved the outhouse behind the pit. We heard that his son went out in the night and fell in the hole where the outhouse had been.” (I don’t know about you, but I when I was little we had an outhouse. Yuck! ) 

My dad still thought at 60 years of age that the face of the farmer would have been funny to see when he saw his mules on top of the barn. My dad was born in 1915, so he fell in the years of the expensive prank time period.  The Historyof Halloween  sheds some light on this time period.
It was not a relatable story for my children, because it would be another 8 years before they would even see an outhouse.  I thought it was a neat story, but was glad my sons were not old enough to understand. J
My mom on the other hand did not have a Halloween story at all.  She was too scared to even think about ghosts and such.  Her brother would wait until she was in the outhouse (there is that word aging) and then make ghost sounds, which would almost make her fall in the hole. 
He loved telling her the murder story of a couple in town (only 5 houses down) and how they laid in the store overnight that scared her so badly, she never forgot the story. She ended up researching it and writing about it when she became an adult. Scary things were never something she relished, but she did love having a big bowl of candy for the kids to chose from Halloween. She also loved decorating her class room at school and seeing the kids come dressed up to school on that day...another thing of the past. 
For myself, I fell in the post World War II group which also appears to relate to lack of sugar rationing and the beginning again of treats.
I only remember one time of going out trick or treating.  I was dressed up like a princess and went with a group of kids. What I remember most, was one house had really gone all out to have a scary haunted looking house.  I went up with a couple of kids to knock on the door, and a really scary looking witch opened the door.  I was so scared, I ran down the steps to run across a vacant lot.  I did not see the wire some surveyors had stretched along the property line and did a flip and ended face down in the moist cold ground.  That was it. I was up and down the road to return home as fast as I could go.  This is my only personal trick or treating Halloween childhood memory. The rest of the time it was handing out treats to those that came to our house. Something occurred to me, when I say treats, it was not always candy.  It could be popcorn balls, cookies, or many different homemade treats.

­­­­Just before my first child was born there were a series of murders in Houston that took trust of your neighbors down a huge notch.  Then a man covered up his murdering his son with putting poison in candy.  That really changed the thought on Halloween trick or treating for me.  Funny I never really thought about the trick part.  That brings us to my children and grandchildren and how trick or treat happens for them at this time period.  It appears to me it is all about costumes, well there still is candy or “alternative treats” like sugar free gum.   The treats must be in undisturbed company packaging.
They were just starting community Halloween activities in our area when my first daughter turned 5.  That was still in the 1970s.  When we moved to the country it was in full swing. Our first Halloween there was celebrated at a local maintenance barn for the “city”.  My daughter was Bianca of “The Rescuers”.   She was not into scary. 
The Hero and my mom in the background, daughters and son in foreground. I made the costumes. J

We had several years of our church creating their own Halloween activity night to keep the children off the streets.  They had games, class rooms became “homes” for the kids to drop by and trick or treat for candy.  It was a fun event that my children loved.  Then some became anti Halloween and called it Fall Festivals, it quickly died as an event, which brings me to what I see today.
In my area, the number of house to house trick or treating or church festivals the night of Halloween has gone down to almost none existent.  We have what is called trunk or treat.  I don’t think I have seen anything this elaborate, but I can understand the thought behind it. There are also Malls or department stores that have "Halloween Trick or Treat Night".  The most fun was the Assisted Living at my mother in law's. 
My mother in law at 91 in her assisted living waiting on trick or treaters.
My grandchildren, in a small town, still have house to house trick or treating and it is very important to them. This is an example of their letters to me:
my grandson

My granddaughter that decided to make her own mermaid costume. J

I really have had fun making costumes through the years.  Still do occasionally when there is special request.  I hope the fun of dressing up never goes away.  From ghosts, to pirates, to princesses, it is a fun thing to see the imaginations and creativity of youth fly to come up with the best costume ever. 
I wrote a blog on this here.  I think it is a good thing. J

Do you have a Halloween tradition or story from your area?  
See you next month.


  1. This was so much fun to read! It also got me remembering some of my own Halloweens. I think we were lucky to live in a rural, yet populated enough place that going out on Haloween in homemade comstumes, was always fun when I was young! And we got so much candy,we never had otherwise! LOL My kids, and now my grandkids get to dress up and go house to house as well! We are blessed to have lived in small towns,or in the suburbs so that this was possible! It is so much fantasy fun for kids!

  2. Your stories bring back so many memories! The outhouse one especially. My uncle was sweet on a girl who loved to dance. (He did not.) But he would go to the clubs to watch her dance. He noticed he had a rival, who did dance. So he waited until his rival went to the outhouse. Then he and his friends knocked it over with their car! He later married his dancing girl. So I guess it worked.

    1. LOL Schalene, that is both awful and funny. Glad it worked out fine. That is one for family history. ;-)

  3. Love your stories - especially your outhouse story. My dad's Halloween trickster story included cow patties!

    1. Cow patties. You need to share. That sounds very interesting. Thanks for commenting. :-)


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