Has Halloween lost its spirit?
As a kid, Halloween was the holiday. Dressing up, pumpkin carving, house decorations, scary stories, Halloween movies ("Hocus Pocus," please), and of course, going door to door dropping one-liners for free candy in exchange was enough to get excited about. Now, I may have been a little over-excited for this holiday, but then again, at the time, what kid wasn't? I ritualized Halloween, and refused to go trick-or-treating with anyone other than my dad for admittedly way too many years. In time, I went trick-or-treating with friends instead, but still a dedicated participant nonetheless.
Nowadays, the Halloween "spirit" and tradition has shifted. Of course, there are still costumes and candy involved, but as years go on, the cut off age to trick-or-treat is declining. Children who do trick-or-treat have become scarce, and costumes lack the scare factor of the Halloween spirit.
The reasons for this are far and wide, but there are a few that may be responsible.
Myths about Halloween, such as the presence of ghosts and skeletons, have become absurd. These fictitious stories are seldom believed by kids nowadays; that little bit of fear that made the holiday so fun has vanished and been replaced by a discerning eye roll of disbelief. What is Halloween without its haunting tales?
No one demonstrated it better than Lindsay Lohan in "Mean Girls." Unacquainted with the newly emerged Halloween culture, she dresses up as an "ex-wife" (sporting a wedding dress, unappealing fake teeth, and blood). Arriving at a Halloween party she realizes Halloween was a bit different than she was accustomed to.
"In the real world, Halloween is when kids dress up in costumes and beg for candy. In 'Girl World,' Halloween is the one day a year when a girl can dress up like a total slut and no other girls can say anything else about it," said Lohan's character in the film. This doesn't only apply to girls, though; boys dress up as cops, football players, and generally attire unrelated to Halloween. Even for younger kids, costumes have become more sexualized and fashionable.
Teens aren't the only demographic participating in Halloween themed parties; today, parents have become skeptical and concerned about child safety and replaced trick-or-treating with indoor festivities. Paranoia grew with mass media-inflamed stories of candy being poisoned or containing hidden razor blades and has led parents to opt out of the activity altogether.
SMC student Sarah Winick admits she wishes she could still go trick-or-treating.
"It was so much fun but it would look like the weirdest thing in the world because trick-or-treating isn't really in anymore. My little sister doesn't even go because everyone's worried about being kidnapped and stuff," said Winick.
It seems like trick-or-treating has become a chore; the care-free fun it once was is long gone--even in online discussions and news articles it's recommended to have reflective gear and rape whistles. Fear of kids knocking on a strangers door sweeps the nation, stranger danger is more alive than ever. To be fair, that's a questionable idea to say the least, but it is Halloween, that what you're supposed to do. However, there are times when unfortunate things do happen. Precaution is never a bad thing but it's gotten a little extreme. All these rules and warnings could easily take the fun out of anything.
Needless to say, my Halloween experiences as a kid are far from what I see today. It's unfortunate to see such a drastic change in something that was once so fun and festive. Sinister thoughts attached to Halloween really put a damper on its tradition. All things change over time, so it's not surprising things are done a bit differently. But the majority of reasons behind the adjustment are a little too terror-stricken, and not in the Halloween way.