Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Trick or ...err... trick

Hallowe'en, the night of Ghouls, witches and warlocks. A time for kids to dress up, go out and demand, if not money, then gifts with menaces.

Let's face it, that's what it is. "Give us your pocket money or we'll make you suffer". From eggs and flour to overturned dustbins and 'keyed' cars, one way of another they will make you wish you'd paid up.

Halloween (and other celebrations') origins can be found in the pagan festival of Samhain, celebrating the end of the Harvest. However, dressing up and going from door-to-door can be traced back to wassailing in the Middle Ages where the poor folk would beg for food on All Souls Day.

It took the Americans to combine the two into one event early on in the 20th Century. We can thank them for that, along with 'Have a Nice Day', 'The Dukes of Hazzard' and Jerry Springer.

When Children are small, it can be fun to dress them up. When Children are small, it can be fun to go carol singing. However, once they reach a certain age - say 8 or 9 - then the whole concept changes and householders can feel intimidated by a group at their door.

It is also my experience that the older ones come around earlier on the 31st October or come carol singing earlier and earlier in December in order to get the fresh pickings, leaving later groups to be told 'Oh, we've had the Trick or Treaters / Carol Singers around already - sorry.'

You can fight them at their own game. Closing the curtains, turning out the lights and not answering the doors is one option, as is going out. I've offered fresh fruit as the treat before now. That confuses them. The Addams Family had the right idea with a vat of boiling oil from the rooftop although of course, in the interest of health and safety and litigation, I am in no way recommending nor condoning it, just quoting it as an example. Cold water should have the same desired effect.

Responsible shops have posters up stating that they will not sell eggs or flour to anyone under 16 years old. Oh good. That should be just as effective as the smoking and alcohol notices then.

If you are concerned, contact your local Police Station or Neighbourhood Watch Coordinator as you should be able to get hold of a 'No Trick or Treat' poster to place by your front door.

Finally, I heard of one person who placed a notice on the door. "Dear Trick or Treater. My bell is not working, so please help you to a treat from the basket on the doorstep. First come, first served". He then placed an empty basket on the step, shut the door and settled back into his armchair.

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