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Diatribe: Didn’t Halloween Used To Be For Kids?

10/25/2013

VintageHalloweenCostumesWhen I was a kid I used to look forward to Halloween almost as much as Christmas.  From as far back as I can remember, my mother took my siblings and I trick-or-treating on Halloween night.  In the Midwest it was usually rather chilly on Halloween night and we would bundle up beneath our store-bought costumes.  To this day I can close my eyes and feel the moisture of my breath and the smell of a plastic Casper the Friendly Ghost mask as I struggled to see where I was going.  It was always more fun to go out after dark, carrying our special bags to haul our loot home, and we were always closely supervised.  Our house was on a hill so we had to climb up one side and down the other in order to stop at every neighbor’s door.  As we got older, we were allowed to cross McCarthy Road which gave us access to another neighborhood filled with candy.  Of course, we were required to take off our masks to cross the street.

Decorations for Halloween consisted primarily of simple jack-o-lanterns on the porches and cardboard cut-outs on the front doors throughout the neighborhood.  Many homes displayed homemade items that children had created at school or with friends.  The celebration was focused on the children.

Sometime in the years since then it seems that Halloween has become more about adults than about children.

The majority of costumes for sale are available in adult sizes.  Decorations are electronic, motion activated, and often quite frightening … certainly not meant to be enjoyed by small children.  Even the carving of pumpkins has changed from cutting triangles from the shell and inserting a candle to intricate carvings using special tools and lights … a feat that youngsters can rarely accomplish.

In the yards of homes in many subdivisions, trees are decorated with Halloween lights and intricate scenes of horror including bloody decapitations, zombies and extreme gore are displayed for passersby to see and enjoy.  This year there seems to be an unusual amount of reported instances of Halloween decorations containing fake dead bodies and other items so gruesome that neighbors have complained to police that the displays are frightening their children.

When did Halloween change from children in Casper the Friendly Ghost masks to adults displaying fake murder scenes on their front lawns?  Am I the only one who sees more adults in costumes this time of year than children?

Didn’t Halloween used to be for kids?

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9 Comments
  1. And it should’a stayed that way.

    This gay is not a fan.

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  2. Lene permalink

    It used to be for kids and that was the joy of it. Seeing the excitement in the eyes and voices behind their Casper masks and hearing the screech when I gave them chocolate bars was everything I needed out of Halloween.

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  3. I’ve been looking thru Pinterest at Halloween stuff and have left several pages because of the horror and gruesomeness.
    We have a ‘dollhouse’ type of decorating now. Miniature houses, pumpkins, ghosts (with smiles), graveyard, scarecrows, haystacks. The kids linger over it before, and after, scoring some candy.

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  4. Hallowe’en is an excellent excuse for adults to dress up like kids and then get drunk.

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  5. My daughter just did up her face with wonderful make up job to attend a Hallowe’en party. She always has been a whiz with make up!

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  6. I can’t give you the answer you seek, because most likely there isn’t just one answer. I’m one of those kids who remember “back in the day” and think about how simple it really was. Now, in my mid-40s I find myself still enjoying Halloween, probably more than my kids, well, except for my 23 y/o daughter who has taken it to a whole other level in the sleepy little town she lives in, in western South Dakota.

    I’m one who goes to the extreme (please) when decorations go up for Halloween. To include, but not limited to, my haunted trail thru the woods and my own personal haunted house that was purpose built just for Halloween by my kids and myself. I never saw the point of growing up, however, the gore really has evolved.

    As far as it being a holiday meant for the children goes, here is my opinion. If there were not adults who took it to the next level then the market for the holiday would deplete itself out making less new and modern costumes for the kiddos. I find it very disturbing every year that the Christmas decorations go up for sale every year before or at the same time as for Halloween. Christmas also being a holiday that the kids relish. In the end, I try to keep it lively in my neighborhood and my haunted trail and haunted house sees around 1500 visitors every October, young and old alike.

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    • You seem like a lovely person who wants EVERYONE to enjoy the day! Good for you! I assume that you have the good judgement to keep your haunted trail and house from being so frightening that your neighbors find it necessary to alert the police when their children become upset.

      There was news today about Halloween costumes at office parties that were considered inappropriate. Frankly, I think an office Halloween party is inappropriate. One of the parties in question was in a hospital of all places! Who wants ghouls and goblins roaming about when their sick in a hospital bed?!

      I couldn’t agree more when it comes to Christmas decorations being sold in October. I’m all for being prepared but when the holidays go on for months they certainly lose some of their significance and feel a lot less “special”, don’t they?

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