Trick or treaters will be knocking on the door soon

Published 9:33 pm Sunday, October 27, 2013

The little goblins are coming! Are you ready?

Halloween is right around the corner, and all the stores are loaded with candy for the little trick-or-treaters. For many years I always had candy ready, but in the past several years no children have come so I quit buying candy, knowing I would eat it.

I also discovered there was a “Trunk or Treat” event at one of the local churches and a festival at the school. The kids went there, got all the candy they wanted, had lots of fun and went home.

“Trunk or Treat” is a safe event usually planned at a church. Volunteers have the trunks of their cars open, decorated and filled with treats. The children go from car to car and get their treats without having to knock on doors.

There are other planned Halloween activities for children at schools and churches. and it keeps them off the streets. It also eliminates dangerous treats from being distributed, as has happened in some places. We can’t be too careful with our children.

As a child, I don’t remember Halloween being a big deal. We made jack-o-lanterns from orange construction paper and bats from black paper and maybe a witch or two to decorate the classroom. The only spooky stories I heard were generally “ghost stories” around the campfire or at a party, but not necessarily affiliated with Halloween.

Trick or treat was not done. In fact, it was mentioned nationally in 1947 in children’s magazines like “Jack and Jill” and “Children’s Activities” and was also introduced through Halloween episodes of radio programs, including “The Baby Snooks Show” in 1946, “The Jack Benny Show” and “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” in 1948. The custom had become a part of American culture by 1952.

By the time my children came along, we knew about it, as the kids in town were going trick or treating. My friends and I de-cided one year to put our small children in the car and take them trick or treating — in the country. It was so much fun.

Not expecting trick-or-treaters, nobody was prepared, but most joined in the fun and our little ones came home with loot anyway. They had cookies, candy, money, popcorn, fruit and anything else the people could find to give them.

By the next year, there were numerous cars filled with kids in the country area. As my children grew older, they usually chose to stay home and give candy to the little kids rather than to go themselves.

One year, Rob decided to give the trick-or-treaters an extra thrill. He had a pair of johnny walkers and with a very large dropcloth, he managed to produce a giant ghost. He waited until they came to the door and received their treats and then he appeared from around the side of the house. Of course they screamed and ran for the car, then laughed as they realized they were safe.

All but one brave little boy — and he was little! He calmly put his pail of goodies on the sidewalk and walked up to the ghost, picked up the bottom of the drop cloth and peeked under. “He’s on sticks,” he yelled!

Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (“sah-win”). This was held at the end of the harvest season and was a time used by these ancient pagan people to count their supplies and prepare for winter.

They believed the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped on Oct. 31 — All Hallows Eve — and the dead would come back to life and cause bad things such as sickness or damaged crops. The people wore costumes to mimic the dead and scare them off. The poorer people went house to house begging for food and other supplies to get them through the winter.

I feel like a lot of these customs came to the United States with our Celtic ancestors and likely, from some of them, the trick or treat custom for children began and spread.

Like some other holidays, Halloween does have pagan beginnings. I have never felt there was a great deal of harm in letting children participate, as most know it is not real. If not, they should be instructed that it is all in fun. Some people feel it is both pagan and anti-Christian and children should not participate.

With the exception of older kids who like to go out and do devilment, for most children it is just a fun time when they get to dress up in costume, scare people and get a lot of candy. Most little kids dearly love to do all of that!

Make it a fun Halloween and make sure the children stay safe, have lots of fun and get lots of candy. If we act just right, they may even share with us!

Retired Lifestyle Editor Bob Ann Breland, a resident of Pine, writes a weekly column and may be contacted at bobann_b@ yahoo. com.