Tradition of Trick-or-Treating: Tired or Timeless?

The coming of October every year sparks something inside of me. I don’t know whether it’s the ever-present scent of pumpkin spice that seems to waft through the air, or the crisp fall breeze that signals the changing of the seasons-- in spite of California’s summer-all-year-round weather. Maybe it’s the inevitable “Thriller” dance party or the promise of a king-sized-candy-bar feast the night of Halloween, or even watching crowds of elementary-schoolers pick out their very own future jack-o-lantern from the pumpkin patch.

At approximately this time of year, my first-grade self was torn over two potential Halloween costumes: Tinker Bell, and a classic black cat. As someone who can’t choose between pie flavors, let alone costumes, I decided to truly have the best of both worlds, and go as Tinker Bell to school, then go home and promptly change into my black leggings and cat ears to go trick-or-treating in. Of course, as a first-grader, every house I showed up at thought I was adorable, leading to a landslide of candy-collection and the best Halloween-candy-auction that my siblings and I had ever held, the morning after.

In fourth and fifth grade, my Star Wars obsession had reached an unhealthy level, and I went as a Jedi both years. In middle school, costumes weren’t as popular, and the unspoken consensus was to go big or go home, as most people either put their all into an intricately crafted costume or didn’t wear one to school at all.

It was in high school, however, that was the death of my “Halloween spirit.” I was too busy thinking about reports and exams to plan out a costume a week, let alone a month before the ominous All Hallow’s Eve. In fact, in my Junior year, I skipped out on practically every pre-planned Halloween festivity in an effort to prepare for a presentation the next day.

Trick-or-treating itself, specifically in costume, has been a point of contention: How old is too old to trick-or-treat?

While I do believe that it would be slightly unnerving to see a middle-aged man show up at my door, decked out as Harry Potter or Iron Man, and asking for a king-sized candy bar, I’m going to firmly stick with my long-held belief: As long as you’re comfortable with dressing up in costume and going door-to-door, "too old" is just a figment of your imagination.

I know plenty of people who put months of effort into their costumes-- sketching and sewing them from scratch even now, as high-schoolers-- and I applaud them. That amount of dedication is admirable, even though I myself couldn’t keep up with that sort of pressure. If they have that sort of passion for the Halloween spirit, who’s to stop them by telling them that they’re over an invisible ‘age line’?

I personally feel that, no matter how old you are, trick-or-treating is a great way to spend your Halloween night, let go, and eat a truckload of candy-- with a legitimate excuse! While it could be slightly strange to trick-or-treat when you’re not a kid anymore, nobody will stop you from getting together with friends for a costume party, re-living Halloweens long since past, and letting the elementary-schooler inside you loose.

So, though I probably won’t wear a costume to school this year, and I definitely won’t be torn over two costumes a month before, you can catch me and my four brothers and sisters-- all high-schoolers-- in costume, pumpkin baskets in hand, trick-or-treating throughout Halloween night… And, if you feel the call of the autumn breeze and the scent of freshly-dipped caramel apples, maybe we’ll see you out there, too.

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