I believe it is the right of every adult to relive the innocent traditions of their childhood without fear of being ostracized for not being adult enough. Saturday morning cartoons, cabin trips over the summer, Easter egg hunts, birthday parties, etc.
The age in which the torch from Trick-or-Treater to Candy Greeter is passed is different for each household, but most commonly happens between 12-14 years old. I was 13 years old when my mother asked me “Don’t you think you’re getting too old to go Trick-or-Treating?” Of course I hadn’t. Why would I assume age had anything to do with candy, costumes, and spooky stories? This was just was the way things had always been.
I feel strongly against adult instituted traditions limited by age. Consider that when a child is told about Santa Clause they spend their first five or six years of life believing a man in a red suit gives them presents once a year. Parents go to great lengths to nurture this belief by forming traditions such as leaving out cookies for Santa, placing fake footprints by the fireplace, and waiting until their children are in bed to put out presents, all for the ‘gleam in their eyes and the joy on their faces’ on Christmas morning, but then dismantle that belief when they feel the child is old enough or starts questioning the validity of it. From my own perspective as a child who believed in Santa Clause, it was the latter. It felt like I was being punished for questioning the existence of something I celebrated and anticipated every year since I could form memories. Easter egg hunts are similar in that children are told that the Easter Bunny leaves eggs for them to find in hunts around the yard and home. Then at a randomly selected age or when questions start to form they are told the truth.
Trick-or-treating does not have a lie attached to the tradition but instead is left ambiguous on ways to celebrate it as an adult. When I worked at a Halloween store it was over a span of five years that I became familiar with adult Halloween traditions. I would ask adults in casual conversation what their plans for the Holiday were and most said they were having a party. Although the tradition of Trick-or-Treating was done for them they could not help but celebrate the time of year.
It’s not strange for adults to celebrate certain parts of the year out of habit rather than belief. After all that’s a tradition is the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation. Even as a non-Christian I still celebrate Christmas because it’s something I have always done and would feel like a part of me was missing if come the end of December my traditional Christmas items weren’t present. Why do people think Halloween is any different?
Unlike Christmas and Easter where I stopped celebrating the traditions of Santa and The Bunny at 5 or 6, I stopped Trick-or-Treating when I was 14 years old. That is 14 years of tradition I was expected to stop just because I got too old.
I decided to go out Trick-or-Treating again when I was 16 years old. I hadn’t been able to go the year before because I decided to try out the Candy Greeter title that was unceremoniously given to me. Turns out that not many kids like to Trick-or-Treat in apartment buildings. Instead of dealing with the short stick I was given, I decided to go out with a boyfriend at the time and another friend. Of course I got a few comments like, “Aren’t you too old to be Trick-or-Treating?” but for the most part it only reaffirmed that the tradition would never be the same for me and I stopped going entirely after that.
There was no lie or questioning of beliefs involved, I was simply too old to be given handouts. That’s what free candy is when you’re older. When you’re a kid it’s fun and innocent but if an adult goes through the same passages of dressing up, coming to your door to ring the bell and ask for candy, why is it considered inappropriate?
The likely story is that without a Candy Greeter there would be no free candy at all, so someone has to do it. I would like to know what made age a deciding factor in who is a Trick-or-Treater and who is a Candy Greeter. Is it because as an adult we can afford our own candy? Most likely. But why can’t adults choose which side they want to be on?
Holidays are sad affairs for adults because while we are able to form new traditions within the limitations of our adult lives, some of us never quite feel the same about them. I implore anyone who has children to think about the way you introduce these traditions because they mean a lot and will shape the way they celebrate in the future.