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Halloween Traditions, or How to Scare the Neighborhood Children

October 25, 2012 | Billie Brownell

Topic: Staff Chatter

When I was a kid, Halloween was the one night of the year for kids to literally run wild and get (and give) some scares. We would go trick-or-treating in our neighborhood, then be driven over to my cousin's neighborhood to trick-or-treat there. Pranks, sometimes a little bit too much, were played. Real, homemade candy apples and popcorn balls were commonplace. And the candy! I don't remember getting much candy as a kid, other than at Halloween and maybe during Christmas. It was great.

But Halloween traditions are changing and seem to be weakening. The fear of tainted candy has understandably led many parents to abandon trick-or-treating, even in their own neighborhoods. How long will this tradition last? Until she stopped giving anything at all, my mom was handing out pencils to trick-or-treaters. I ask you, what kid on the planet wants a pencil? A pencil alone is enough to kill Halloween.

But people, adults and children, still like to be scared (look at the movie 28 Days Later as an example – it is really, really scary …) So I say, let's put some fear back into Halloween by carving turnip jack-o-lanterns instead of pumpkins. I researched Halloween traditions for a project, and I discovered that the Irish originally carved turnips to scare off evil spirits. Pumpkins are American, and carving pumpkins is an American twist on this ancient tradition.

The difference in appearance is striking; even if pumpkins have a "scary" face, they communicate a sort of joie de vivre about them, kind of like Maurice Chevalier. Not so the turnip! Just take a look at that photo. It means business. Really, really scary serious business. Like, I'm coming for you, little neighborhood child.

There are still a few days to test this theory before Halloween this year. Let me know how it goes.

What about you? How would you put fear back into Halloween?


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