The Good and the Bad

While cycling home from work this evening through the early-evening darkness, an entire family walked out in front of me. The family comprised of two adults in warm coats, followed by a rag-tag train of small witches, zombies, and superheroes.

Ah yes – of course – it’s Halloween.

Along the way I passed many other families walking from house to house – and heard echoes of “Trick or Treat!” from assorted silhouetted doorways.

Arriving at home, I stored my bicycle before wandering through the house – removing my helmet, coat, scarf, and gloves. While doing so there were two knocks at the door – the first answered by my other half, who swore under her breath as she passed me, and the next answered by me.

I was greeted by a little boy in a vampire costume, and an empty bowl on the doorstep. Apparently my other half had grown sick of the fifty or sixty visitors that had arrived so far, and left the sweets outside. In the two minutes between her leaving the bowl outside, and me answering the door, the entire supply had been taken.

We have no doubt who did it. Not the littlies who stand two feet tall in your doorway, looking hopefully up in their costume. Oh no – it would all have been taken by a teenager, intent on milking Halloween for whatever they could get, after expending as little effort as possible on a costume.

I questioned two obvious mid-teens that arrived at the door with little or no costume, and asked them if they might be a bit old. One of them claimed his age was at least three or four years younger than he actually was. How many primary school children have broken voices ? Idiot.

It wasn’t all bad though. Over the course of the next hour or so I answered the door to a succession of young families with small children – some no doubt doing Halloween for the first time. The smallest are always the most fun. One little girl picked a sour sweet from our emergency supply, and asked if she could eat it straight away. I looked up at her Mum, standing at the end of the driveway, and grinned – “I’m sure that will be ok”. A little boy dressed as a television took one gummy bear, and said thankyou. Another little girl dressed as a faerie thought she had dropped her sweet, before discovering it in her own bucket, and fist-pumping the air with quite some excitement.

Of course I offered several parents sweets too. Some smiled toothy grins and accepted – others shot me a worn smile, and told me they were trying to hang on until dinner time. I bet they eat their children’s sweets.

It strikes me that Halloween is very different over here than it is in the suburbs of America. It was almost certainly popularised during the huge influx of American families during the cold war, and has carried on over the years – but only among the young. You very rarely see parents or teens dressed up. When I look at the social internet, it’s noticeable that my American friends almost all throw themselves into it – whatever their age.

You know the interesting thing to me though? If statistics are to be believed, something like 80% of Americans follow the mainstream religions – which all frown upon the idea of Halloween, and discourage any involvement in it. Because of course Halloween’s routes are pagan. It amuses me that so many people I know that claim all sorts of religious faith are happy to dress up as demons, the undead, witches, warlocks, necromancers, wizards – you name it.

Anyway. From somebody that doesn’t believe in any creator figures what-so-ever, and doesn’t question other peoples faith (but does question their hypocrisy), I hope you had a great Halloween, I hope you had some great visitors to your front-door, and I hope you’ve eaten enough candy to make your teeth squeak.

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