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Trick or Treating

Posted by admin On October - 31 - 2010

Trick or Treating

Trick or treating is the most popular Halloween activity for children in North America.  The tradition evolved from adult “mummers” and people going “a-souling” door to door in medieval England, Ireland and Scotland.  They would request a “soul cake” after performing a song, or dress in costumes and give a brief performance for food and drink.  Over time, playing tricks on Halloween in America evolved into children going door to door on Halloween requesting a treat, so the homeowner wouldn’t have a trick played on them.

How old is too old to go trick or treating?  Some US cities have passed ordinances that kids over age 12 can’t trick or treat.  That’s probably going too far, but older teens and adults are likely a little too old to trick or treat, especially if they might scare a mom or dad opening a door and expecting little ones.

Costumes range from simple home-made sheets for ghosts to elaborate store-bought costumes, makeup and other disguises inspired by famous characters in movies and television, including monsters, ghouls, pirates and witches.  Every year the most popular costumes reflect popular tastes – some years pirates are in and ninjas are out.  Little girls always want to be fairies or princesses.  Be sure to tell them how beautiful they are when they show up at your house.

If you’re the host to trick-or-treaters, here are the commonly-accepted rules:  first, turn your porch light on during the time you expect trick-or-treaters to let them know you are “open for business.”  Some homeowners take the holiday so seriously that they decorate their yards and wait on their porch or in the garage for trick-or-treaters.  One treat per child is fine, but the host can decide if more is okay, depending upon supplies.  Keep control of the candy bowl to prevent enthusiastic kids from grabbing large amounts of candy.  You can substitute non-candy items like school supplies or small toys – just be aware that for most kids, it’s all about the candy.  Dentists officially say that candy a few times a year won’t contribute any more to tooth decay than soda, juice, or even white bread, all of which produce the same effect on teeth as candy.

For parents and kids, safety is the biggest concern.  Parents should attend trick-or-treating for all young children.  Older kids should always trick-or-treat in groups.  Kids should never enter a house while trick-or-treating, and should never go with strangers.  Fire safety is also a concern.  Lit candles in Jack O’Lanterns are beautiful, but every year, fire accidents occur when children’s costumes come too close to fire.  Homeowners should keep all candles and other burning items well away from where children will be.  Costumes and decorations should always be made from fire-resistant materials.

The fear of poisoned or sabotaged Halloween candy or razors in apples arises on every Halloween.  Unwrapped candy, home-made items, or suspicious-appearing fruit should never be distributed or consumed.  Parents should examine all candy prior to allowing their children to eat it.  Today’s large Halloween candy displays and options always include safely pre-wrapped candy.  The safety rule is: when in doubt, throw it out.   Is it common that poisonings or sabotage occurs on Halloween?  No.  Researchers have found that only 13 injuries were caused by poisoning or injury related to Halloween candy or food in recent years.  However, Halloween accidents, such as falls, motor vehicle accidents and burns, are common and do occur every year.  A great alternative to trick-or-treating also exists in sponsoring your own Halloween party with games and treats, or attending community or school carnivals and festivals, which grow in popularity every year.