Halloween. Hallows’ Eve. October 31st. Children running amok on broomsticks plastered in facepaint, spittle pooling in plastic fangs inducing many a lisp. For us at Queen Mary and undoubtedly every university across the country, just another excuse to drink ourselves silly. Arguably another seasonal checkpoint benefiting the pockets of major retailers. Make of Halloween what you will, it haunts us every year, with all the trimmings and trappings.
Most will be able to relate to the waves of exasperation I feel at yet another knock on the front door and yet another ‘trick or treat!’ My hometown in less of a town than a tiny village, and it seems every child under the age of 12 in the vicinity are in competition to see who can procure the most sweeties. I am less gratuitous than my neighbours and have had to refrain from slamming the door in the glowing, painted face of many a child. However, despite my annoyance at the monotony of answering the door, is there really any harm in trick or treating?
The Metropolitan Police have information on their website warning the public about trick or treating being used as the perfect burglary opportunity. There are even posters provided for the public to print out and stamp on their front door to prevent trick or treaters lingering. All of this would indicate that there is an aspect to trick or treating that is far more sinister than the abundance of spooky rubber masks.
For some, Halloween is scary for all the wrong reasons. Imagine being a single, elderly man or woman, well aware of your own vulnerability. An unwanted, unexpected knock on the door is bad enough to have to answer. Now imagine opening the door to discover a congregation of masked adolescents. Let’s say that the intentions of these teenagers were harmless, let’s say they just loved a sugar rush as much as the next person. Even then, the distress it would cause an elderly individual is anything but harmless. If criminal activity was their intention…need I say more?
If we were to reverse the dynamic, we could also ask if it is really wise to allow children to run around knocking on doors left right and centre? Of course, responsible parents would accompany children on their trick or treating endeavours to avoid a very real horror story writing itself. But some parents are not so responsible, and do not ponder the motives of whoever waits beyond the door frame.
Either way, why is this tradition even necessary? You might ask why then, is any festival tradition necessary? Should we interrogate carol singers in the middle of a ‘Silent Night’ chorus? I would say the local church choir are probably harmless.
With proper supervision and with appropriate age, trick or treating is about as scary as ‘Ghostbusters.’ Halloween should stir an ironic kind of fear of the supernatural, not actual fear, the kind of which criminal activity breeds. So please boys and girls, accept that you’re past trick or treating. Come and join the rest of at Drapers, where the most harm anyone will come to is slipping on their arse trying to copy the ‘Thriller’…