More than any other holiday, Halloween is when American children get to know their neighborhoods. While other holidays like Christmas and Easter are spent with friends and family, only on Halloween do kids go out in roving bands across the neighborhood, visiting every house they see even though they’re complete strangers. And while no names are asked and most faces are masked, you get a sense of who people are just by going up to their house and saying “Trick or Treat!” at the door.
There’s the adult in full costume with a huge smile, happy to see all the kids dressed up. There’s the one with no costume, grudgingly handing out candy so their house doesn’t get egged. There’s the mom or dad who switches halfway through the night as their spouse takes over trick-or-treating duty with the children. There’s the kindly old lady who hands out boxes of raisins or loose change. The unmanned bowl labeled “Take one” that inevitably, someone dumps the entire thing in their bag. The guy dressed as a scarecrow, sitting on the porch bench pretending to be a decoration right until someone reaches for the “Take one” bowl on his lap.
The family that turned their entire front yard into a haunted house with lights, music and fog machines. The kindly folks handing out full-size candy bars instead of the mini “fun-size” treats made for Halloween. Children learn which houses are which from year to year, or pass the stories along to each other in the night like traveling merchants. “This house has huge candy bars” “Don’t go here, there’s only raisins” “I think I got the last peanut butter cup”.
Every holiday gets celebrated a bit differently in every house, but only on Halloween do you spend the night visiting other houses to see them!