I grew up in a kinder and gentler world (and I’m not that old) where I remember roaming the streets of the various towns I lived in wearing my Halloween costume and ringing the doorbells of strangers for my “Trick or Treat.” I’ve got a particularly warm and fuzzy memory of being a fifth grader when we lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and being dropped off in a posh neighborhood so I could collect great swag from the nice houses there.
Boy, those days are gone! No sane parent would expose their child to the mercies of strangers in these times, and as a result, Halloween has turned into a series of safe, bland events where parties are given and candy collecting is tightly monitored. Instead, over the course of the last decade or so, Halloween has become a holiday that caters to adults more than kids. I think deprivation may lay behind this trend; at heart, we all want to be young again and go get goodies that make our teeth rot and give us sugar shock.
The Library is the place to learn about the historical and contemporary trends to the holiday. Whether it’s tracking the All Soul’s aspect of Halloween, or discerning a postmodern influence, publications abound from the encyclopedic to the pictorial. You can read about the origins of Greenwich Village’s famed event, or treat yourself to an academic survey of the holiday’s development over the centuries.
But, most of all, I want to know if others feel the nostalgia I do, and if they think that there’s something behind the adult-ification of Halloween? Since the old-time American door-to-door Trick or Treat ritual has been replaced by less satisfactory options, are holiday celebrations really that relevant? Or are we merely readjusting to a changing world, and jettisoning something that was never really that germane to our culture?