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Halloween Past and Present

October 28, 2011 · 104 comments

in Holidays

I love Halloween, and always have.  The fall is such a wonderful time of year, and when you combine falling leaves, cider and trick or treating, it is perfect!

I was watching the news the other day, and the newscaster was providing all kinds of Halloween safety tips.  The news story made me stop and think about how Halloween has changed over the years.  The general theme has obviously remained the same, but there are some differences.

Halloween In The 1970s

When I was a kid, costumes were not elaborate.  We bought a plastic mask, some cheap costume, and marched up and down the streets with a pillowcase.

Fun-size  candy bars were more the exception than the rule.  Dum dum suckers, Mary Janes, Black Jacks, Smarties and Good N Plenty were much more common.  Now that I think about it, I didn’t even like much of the candy I received, but it sure was special to go out trick or treating.

Devil’s Night (I believe it is called ‘Mischief Night’ in some parts of the country) was almost exciting.  I used to hide on our front porch to try and catch someone egging or soaping our car.  (We all parked in the street.)  I never did catch anyone, but the thought of seeing such vandalism was intriguing.

Pumpkins were carved traditionally.  Triangle eyes and a mouth with some missing teeth.  Pumpkins were great.

Nobody wore reflective bands or carried glow sticks.   Kids just ran door to door (although they still looked both ways before crossing the street).  The streets were packed with trick or treaters!

Halloween in the 2000s

The majority of my kid’s candy now seems to be fun-sized and regular sized candy bars.  I would have been ecstatic  if candy bars had been so popular in my youth, and probably pretty sick too.

According to that news story I watched, masks should not be worn because they are just not safe enough, and kids should all wear something reflective on their costume.   No masks?  Well I should have been arrested when my son was 8 and wore a Darth Vader costume, which was all black, and had a mask AND  a helmet.  Although a light saber might have appeased the child safety experts… but would it also be considered a weapon?  Hard to say.  (I will say though that I would have never let him trick or treat alone in that costume…)

Pumpkins can be considered a work of art.  I have seen some very elaborate scenes carved out of pumpkins, and it looks very labor intensive.  I thought the fancy pumpkins were interesting the first year I saw them, but then they lost their novelty for me- and I prefer the standard pumpkin. (Although I still think the vomiting pumpkin is funny, where the  ‘guts’ are strewn in front of the mouth.)

Speaking of pumpkin guts, I also saw a news story the other day about how a major road was closed because of  ‘pumpkin debris’.  That was a first for me.

Detroit took Devil’s Night to an all new level where fires  were set all over the city.  I believe it is now called ‘Angel’s Night’ and there is extra effort to prevent arson.  (The wide spread fires in Detroit actually started in the 1990s.)

Kids in our area now start trick or treating in the daylight since the clocks ‘fall back’ in November now. I just cannot get used to daylight trick or treating!

There are Halloween stores all over the place.  Right now, many of the out-of-business Borders stores have become ‘Spirit Halloween’.  I have to admit though, I love going in these stores…

If You Live In Southeast Michigan…

Even though things are a little different now than when I was growing up, Halloween is still a great holiday.  If anything, people seem to decorate more now than they did when I was a kid.  What else is great is that it isn’t even a Hallmark Holiday!

Speaking of decorations, I don’t know how many of you readers live in the Metro Detroit area, but if you do, head out to Tillson Street in Romeo and see the best Halloween decorations I have ever seen.  The street is made up of older homes, and the way homeowners have decorated their homes and yards is amazing.  You can park your car and take a stroll up and down the street and at the end, stop at the Dairy Queen that is right there.  I am not affiliated with this ‘presentation’ in any way, I just enjoy going there every year and wanted to spread the word.  If you want more information, go to TerrorOnTillson.com.

What are your Halloween plans?

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Jacq October 28, 2011 at 6:53 am

My kids say that Halloween is their favorite holiday. I might be a nun to hand out candy again this year, since although it is kind of fun to scare little kids with a scarier costume when they come to the door, the nun seems more benign. Although it isn’t too much of a stretch costume. 🙂

The youngest is finally old enough to go out without mom and just with a friend. Last year, we took the dog out with us trick or treating and he was so traumatized by the masks and costumes that he wouldn’t go outside the next day.

Do you do a pumpkin? I usually roast and season the seeds, but was thinking of also making something with the guts for the first time as an experiment.

My last purchase before letting my costco membership expire was a box of chip bags for Halloween. You were right, it’s not cost-effective at all.


Kris October 30, 2011 at 7:11 pm

I was just thinking ‘what costume would be exemplify Jacq?’ and nun is exactly what popped into my mind!!

Oh we do a pumpkin all right. We toast seeds too, a batch of salty seeds and a batch of cinnamon sugar.

Darn it, I forgot to get some goldfish for the little ones who are too little to eat candy bars.


Little House October 28, 2011 at 9:51 am

I still love Halloween too. It’s just a fun holiday. This year, since we live in an apartment now, we’re going to a friends house and helping to hand out candy bars (full size, that is!) My husband will get to wear his leafy suit again and scare unsuspecting children and parents (I’ll post those photos again on Monday – his costume is pretty scary!) Things have changed a bit since the 70’s, but kids still love dressing up and getting candy, so at least that’s the same!


Kris October 30, 2011 at 7:08 pm

More full sized bars, that is great!

The last leafy suit I saw was actually in San Francisco when a beggar guy would jump out from behind garbage cans and such wearing what looked like a bunch of branches and would scare the daylights out of you.

Have a great time!


First Gen American October 28, 2011 at 10:05 am

I’m one of those full sized candy bar houses. My kids flipped when they got one from another house and we don’t have that many kids in our neighborhood, so it’s a real treat.

My mom’s neighborhood is more working class and it sounds much like your experience of the 70’s…her street is mobbed and people drive in from other neigbhorhoods to go there because 4 houses go all out (have haunted houses setup, etc). It’s really really fun. The kids and I can’t wait.


Kris October 30, 2011 at 7:07 pm

I am glad Babci’s neighborhood still gets a lot of kids. I am often tempted to drive by my old neighborhood just to see if there are a lot of kiddos running up and down the street. I live on a cul de sac so I don’t get many trick or treaters. Plus our sub is mostly older kids now, so I end up eating a lot of leftover candy.

You are a good soul for buying the full sized bars. I bought many bags of candy and usually throw 3 or 4 little candy bars into each treaters little bucket.


Niki October 28, 2011 at 10:11 am

Halloween is my favorite. When I was young we always lived in rural areas where we didn’t get to do a lot of trick or treating but we dressed up. I am glad my kids have the chance to go trick or treating now. We live in a great place for it. Our neighborhood is full of spooky Victorian houses. Most people do a great job of decorating.

My mom always made elaborate pumpkins even back in the 70’s. Before they made templates. She free hands all her carving and made the coolest ones I’ve ever seen, in real life. I wish I had a tiny bit of her talent. I have to use templates. 🙁


Kris October 30, 2011 at 7:06 pm

I am so envious of your spooky Victorian houses. That is exactly the type of neighborhood I mentioned at the bottom of the post.

Your mom was a trendsetter. I can stand behind true art!


Ashley @ Everything Finance October 28, 2011 at 10:46 pm

Trick or treating sure isn’t what it used to be. I’d say only about half the kids in my area even go trick or treating anymore. The main church right by our house, where most people in our neighborhood attend, does a Halloween thing the weekend before Halloween and they don’t “believe” in actual trick or treating. They still hand out candy so that’s nice but the streets are packed with kids like I remember.


Kris October 30, 2011 at 7:05 pm

I totally believe in trick or treating, and I would quickly be ostracized from that church!

My neighborhood doesn’t have nearly as many trick or treaters either. I miss seeing all the little ones in their costumes!


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