As college students, Halloween means not just one, but many nights of fun parties and dressing up in our best and most creative costumes. Long gone are the days of grabbing your pillowcase or pumpkin bucket and heading out with your best friends in search of free candy. However, while we may have adopted the “grown up” version of Halloween when we came to college, there is still something to miss about those innocent days of trick-or-treating.
I don’t know about you, but I loved trick-or-treating. If there was free candy involved, I was there in my best witch costume, broom and all. In fact, I went trick-or-treating until my senior year of high school. Judge me if you will, but I believe there is nothing wrong with a 17-year-old walking around her neighborhood with a band of her friends in the pursuit of free candy. It’s the Halloween contract: I wear a costume and you give me some candy. However, contract or not, there were a few people who were not so accepting of my friends and I helping our almost-adult selves to their stash of candy. Adults would look at me and think, “Aren’t you too old to be trick-or-treating?” It felt like as soon as I hit a certain age, I was expected to be going out to Halloween parties and doing other “grown up” Halloween things. Nevertheless, here I was, a senior in high school, dressed as a zombie (and probably looking ridiculous), standing on the stoop of a house, holding out my pillowcase. As my neighbors judged me, I thought, why should I feel obligated to conform to the “grown up” version of Halloween just because I am a certain age?
Coming to college I did drop my trick-or-treating shenanigans and started to adopt the whole “grown up” Halloween scene. Of course the “grown up” version of Halloween is a whole lot of fun and a right of passage, but I still found myself missing the days of goofing around with my friends as we put on our zombie makeup and wandered around my neighborhood. As a college student, the idea of trick-or-treating seems insane, even though I did it a year ago.
There seems to me to be these two not-so-interchangeable ways to celebrate Halloween: the trick-or-treat version reserved for children, and the “grown up” party version for adults, or at least adult-like teenagers. But my question is, why are these two expectations for Halloween so rigid? Why does the trick-or-treat tradition have an expiration date? I believe that in making the transition from trick-or-treating to the world of “grown up” Halloween, we forget that it is ok to hold onto some seemingly childish rituals. Trick-or-treating is a part of Halloween just as much as the costumes and the parties are. Becoming an adult should not mean that we must give up an essential part of the holiday’s festivities. We should be able to celebrate Halloween in whatever way we want to. Halloween is your holiday and you should be able to go to a party, dress up, or walk around with a pillowcase full of free candy — or all of the above. So no matter how you plan to spend your Halloween this month, don’t think that these two ways of celebrating have to be so unrelated. Don’t be surprised if you see me walking around campus with a pillowcase full of candy.