Halloween is fast approaching!
Does that statement make you cheer or make you groan?! I used to be the sort of person who dreaded Halloween and couldn’t wait for it to be over but guess what? Living in America made me a Halloween convert and now I love it!
If you’ve read many of my other articles, you will already know that before we moved to Pennsylvania, we lived in Scotland. Where we lived, Halloween is a very different beast from what we experienced in America, that’s for sure.
Let me set the scene…
For a start, in Scotland, we often call it ‘guising’ instead of ‘trick or treating’. ‘Guising’ comes from disguising yourself in costume. Traditionally kids would disguise themselves as evil spirits to ‘blend in’ and remain safe. Nowadays, you’re more likely to see an Ironman or Captain Marvel than an evil spirit though!
So as a child, we would dress up and visit friends and relatives but there was more to it than simply knocking on their door and getting candy. We would also have to ‘perform’ in some way before we got our treat. In Scotland, we call that a ‘party piece’. We would recite a poem, tell a joke or sing a song. Basically, we had to offer a little entertainment in exchange for the treat in our Halloween bag.
Now as a kid, this wasn’t so bad. I remember enjoying Halloween but as I got older and moved into my own home, my feelings changed.
I suppose part of it is down to social uneasiness/anxiety. Especially when I was living alone, I found the thought of strangers coming to my door unnerving. What if they arrived when I didn’t have anything to give them? What if they didn’t like the candy I had to offer? What if, what if, what if? Perhaps I’m giving you an insight into how much I overthink things. Ok, I definitely am. In any case, it isn’t an exaggeration to say that I found the time around Halloween stressful.
Although most guisers would come on 31st October, that wasn’t always the case. If Halloween didn’t fall on a weekend, sometimes people would come on the weekend before Halloween instead. This just meant that I was anxious about the possibility of unexpected visitors for about a week at the end of October each year.
So, with my foot firmly in the anti-Halloween camp, how did I become a Halloween convert?
I think my kids set me on the road to be honest. I mean, who doesn’t love a baby in a pumpkin or skeleton outfit? But, moving to America, I was still a bit anxious about what Halloween would be like. From the other side of the Atlantic, the perception is that Americans go into Halloween in a BIG way. That sounded about as far away from my comfort zone as I ever wanted to be!
But the first step towards enjoying Halloween more was the discovery that our neighbourhood in Pennsylvania had a set time for Trick or Treating. There was a two-hour window during which we would give out candy and then it would be done. Just like that, my biggest stressor over Halloween was essentially removed. Hurray!
I wasn’t prepared for the volume of people who would come during that time though. We had a lot of candy, or so I thought, but we were close to running out by the end. That first year, I took the kids out Trick or Treating and my husband stayed at home to dish out the candy.
The neighbourhood was a buzz with superheroes, witches, robots, etc. There was a really nice atmosphere as we walked around the houses and when the kids realised how much candy they were getting, they were pretty happy too!
Given my experience of Halloween was of people arriving unexpectedly, I did wonder if people would appear after the dedicated Trick or Treating window. But, as we approached 9pm, they did indeed stop coming to the door. This made me very happy!
The other great thing that helped make me a Halloween convert was the concept of Trunk or Treat. We don’t have anything like this in Scotland. For a start, we don’t even call that part of a car the trunk…we call it the boot of the car. Boot or Treat doesn’t have the same ring, does it?
For anyone reading this who isn’t familiar with the concept, Trunk or Treat is when an organised group of people park their cars together and have their trunks decorated for Halloween. Kids can visit each car and do their trick or treating without having to walk very far.
This also helped my enjoyment of Halloween by reducing the amount of walking my kids needed to do. The amount of walking they do is directly proportional to the amount of moaning they do. Therefore, fewer steps meant more fun for everyone!
Basically, the biggest factor in my journey to becoming a Halloween convert is the structure of the event itself. When I know when guisers/trick or treaters will appear, I am much happier. If they are all gathered together in a parking lot, even better!
How do you feel about Halloween? Grumpy Guiser or Happy Halloweener?