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  September 30, 2023

Halloween Today
Some Alternatives to Trick or Treating Door to Door

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Halloween Today

Concerns about the celebration of Halloween festivities today in the modern world have led to some changes, though it remains a popular celebration. Halloween is especially popular in Ireland, where it gave rise to a public holiday, and in most parts of America. Also, Halloween has become another very important day in the commercial promotions calendar.

In England, the community bon fire tradition at Halloween mostly moved to the November 5th Guy Fawkes celebrations long ago, and has largely faded elsewhere in the face of environmental concerns. Similarly, the traditional community games and fun associated with Halloween have faded in most parts of the world. Health concerns expressed about games like bobbing for apples are a sign of modern attitudes; but the alternative forms of entertainment now available, such as watching horror movies on DVD at home, have probably had a much greater influence on the decline. With such changes, the purpose of the door-to-door collection has long shifted from gathering fruit and other items to use in the community fun activities, to collections of sweets, candy and money for personal gain.

Some modern adults find the begging connotation uncomfortable, especially the suggestion of stand over tactics by threatening a trick if gifts are not given. On the other hand, some home owners go out of their way to make the collection a fun event for the children in their community. They will decorate their homes, stock up on sweets and small change, and even play along with the Halloween theme with sound effects and other ways to create a scary atmosphere. There is no denying that many children love the fun of dressing up and the "loot" they gather.

The safety of children moving from door-to-door to collect sweets and gifts from strangers  in large city communities worries many parents and authorities. In some communities there is supervision and even a move to set up controlled environments where the collection takes place. As a sign of the times, even health issues have been raised about the handling and safety of unwrapped sweets. Charity fund raising involvement has cut back in the face of these concerns becoming more widespread, for example a long running UNICEF fund raising scheme centered on Halloween collections was cut back in 2006.

In some parts of the world the trick aspect to Halloween has unfortunately led to vandalism taking the place of minor mischief or witty pranks, and has given Halloween another less attractive image.

For these reasons, the fresh arrival of Halloween as a pop culture fad has been unwelcome in some communities that have not previously shared in the tradition.

The commercialization of Halloween, especially in America, is a twentieth century phenomenon. There is now a large market for Halloween costumes, decorations and entertainment; and the sale of greeting cards, sweets and candies now reaches a distinct peak around Halloween time, only ranking after Christmas and Easter in importance to retailers.

On the one hand the future of the door-to-door trick or treating traditions of Halloween may become confined to safer small community neighborhoods; and the notion of the Halloween trick is being discouraged because of abuse. On the other hand, organized entertainment around the Halloween theme for people of all ages seems to be going from strength to strength. Halloween theme costume parties, both commercially organized and private, have gained in popularity and will no doubt keep the Halloween traditions alive for many years to come.

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