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Great Halloween Debate: Trick or treat? Take your kids or stay at home?

Woman | Published: | Last Updated:

Halloween is all about our little ones dressing up in spooky costumes and knocking on the neighbours’ doors to get their hands on as many treats as possible. But is trick or treating something we should be encouraging? Woman debates the issue. . .

Kirsten Rawlins is all for the door-knocking on October 31

Trick or Treat?

I’m a big kid and plan to put off growing up for as long as humanly possible. As such, Halloween is my absolute favourite holiday. What’s not to love?! Sweets, horror films, parties – and, best of all, dressing up.

I’ve always loved it – from the days of dressing up as Disney princesses when I was a little girl, all the way through to just a few years ago when I dressed as a zombie Alice in Wonderland; complete with white contacts and a bloody throat.

So when I see the kids in our village dressing up as witches and vampires, I can’t help but want to treat them to sweets and decorate the house with cobwebs and ghouls.

Though I wasn’t keen on trick or treating on my own, being an older child, I have so many wonderful memories of getting dressed up with my little sister and visiting our neighbours. So much so, it became a family tradition. It’s magical when you’re little: painting each others’ faces, and picking out and making outfits.

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Many people in this country are turned off by Halloween, believing it to be an American tradition – but that’s actually up for debate.

In fact, since the Middle Ages there has been a tradition of ‘mumming’; which involved going door-to-door in costume, performing parts of plays or tricks in exchange for food and drink.

There was also a Celtic festival which ran between October 31 and November 1, to mark the start of winter. Among the Celts, this was seen as a time when spirits, fairies and souls of the dead came to Earth and had to be appeased with food or drink.

And, if dressing up, telling scary stories and knocking on neighbours’ doors fuels little ones’ imaginations the way it once did with me (encouraging me to read spooky novels and research witches and vampires – the best I could any way, using children’s books), then surely it is worth the effort on the part of the adults?

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Besides, how many grown-ups (myself included) love going to dressing-up parties – or even wearing ‘cosplay’ at events such as Comic Con? We lived the magic, so should preserve it for the future generations.

Understandably, many parents worry about their little monsters knocking on strangers’ doors – but why not just go with them? We can’t let the baddies of the world get the better of us; or indeed prevent future generations from doing what we so enjoyed.

Becci Stanley says ‘no’ to the ritual of going door-to-door

Trick or Treat?

I love Halloween as much as the next ghoul – dressing up, horror films on every TV channel and spooky homeware in all the shops – but trick or treating is one tradition I wish we could lay to rest.

Every year at Halloween, every time you go to sit down with a brew to watch a good old scary flick, you have ghosts, goblins, witches and vampires knocking on your door. I don’t know any of them, and they certainly don’t know me.

Do you really feel safe allowing your little monster to knock on the door of a total stranger to beg for sweets? We wouldn’t allow it any other day of the year, so why on Halloween? We spend years teaching our children not to talk to or take sweets from strangers, yet that all goes out the window on Halloween where we encourage this behaviour.

This ritual may appear harmless, but it only takes one knock at the wrong door for sweet fun to turn sour.

If that doesn’t turn your blood cold – there are some traditions around trick or treating that will make it boil. Trick or treating isn’t just an innocent adventure for youngsters – many teenagers jump on the bandwagon purely to trick.

With the safety of a Halloween costume protecting their identity, some unruly teenagers run amok across the streets to commit vandalism such as egging houses of neighbours they dislike, and sometimes complete strangers. This may seem harmless, but it is deeply upsetting for those affected.

Do you really want to introduce your child to this sort of behaviour?

And this isn’t the only negative behaviour you’re exposing your children to – trick or treating promotes greed, and does nothing to help our nation’s obesity crisis with high-calorie sugary snacks being handed around with no second thought.

It’s not just your child’s emotional wellbeing that needs to be thought of in this spooky season – there are many vulnerable and elderly people that simply do not need the stress on their bodies and minds of a plethora of strangers turning up at their door demanding treats.

Some argue that trick or treating is just a bit of fun and teaches our children the qualities of giving, sharing and neighbourliness – but I think it’s a dangerous, tacky American tradition that has no place on our streets.

Stay in and stay safe – carve a pumpkin, watch a scary film, tell ghost stories, and hang your trick or treating sack up for good.

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