I stopped celebrating Halloween around the age of 13.
I guess I thought that that was the universal precedent and that I had aught to follow suit. It took entering high school for me to realize that I was in the wrong, and that, in fact, there were still 15 and 16 year olds trick-or-treating through all hours of the night, collecting the free candy that I had once cherished.
During my junior and senior years of high school, things changed. My peers celebrated Halloween, but their of trick-or-treating shifted to raunchy, drunken Halloween parties. These events featured teenagers disguised as Pocahontas, ballerinas, hippies and the all-too-creative black cat costume.
By Monday morning, many infamous stories spread throughout the hallways, students laughed off the antics and vouched to amplify them considerably for the following year.
Let the good times roll, I suppose.
Despite all of this grand wholesome fun, I can’t help thinking that Halloween was much better celebrated as a child. Maybe I’m alone in this opinion, but hear me out.
In elementary school days, Halloween was the event of the season. Party City and Halloween USA were packed with determined parents and impatient children, aggressively scanning the aisles looking for the most sought-after costumes.
Sometimes if you were lucky, your mom or another family member would even graciously sew you your own custom-made ensemble, making you the talk and envy of the 5th grade.
The days leading up to Halloween consisted of ritualistically watching Hocus Pocus and Halloweentown, consuming excessive amounts of candy corn, and meticulous planning of the most effective trick-or-treat routes.
On the day of the school Halloween party, countless witches, Darth Vaders, Harry Potters, and Spidermans confidentially roamed the halls. As the sun set that night, trick-or-treaters slipped costumes overhead, grabbed pillowcases, turned on flashlights, and began their adventure.
Halloween was one of the two days out of the year where I could stay out after my curfew as a kid.
Any other day I was promptly in bed at 8:30 whether I liked it or not, but after returning home from a strenuous night of candy collecting, I was permitted to stay up after hours sorting and counting my loot, going to bed dreaming of my impressive collection of Kit Kats, Hershey bars, Reese’s and Butterfingers.
The excitement and anticipation of trick-or-treating faded as years went by, and although the Halloween celebrations escalated, things changed significantly.
As I grew older, curfews became virtually non-existent. Staying out until midnight or later became the norm and now, in college, it isn’t uncommon to see students wandering around well past 3 a.m. It’s no longer a privilege like it was as a child, and the adrenaline and energy I once experienced staying up past 10 o’clock counting candy has long since been extinguished.
During my youth, adults stressed the theme of being whoever you want. This is one thing that has not changed, and that mentality manifests every Oct. 31.
Girls who strive to one day marry a prince can be a princess, or if they’re really ambitious, a queen. Young athletes who aspire to join the NFL one day can be their favorite football player.
During my later high school years, and now as a freshman in college, I realized my peers expect young women to sport risqué variations of Disney or storybook characters. This is where the question of sexism rears its ugly head.
I wish I could return to the simplicity of my childhood and just be Scooby Doo again, for the fifth time.
To top it off, the most significant part of childhood Halloween has long since disappeared without the bat of an eye. No one speaks of it, and its absence is rarely spoken of: the candy. The journey around the neighborhood was half the fun as the reward, and merely buying bags of Crunch Bars, M&M’s, and Take Fives at Walmart and Target Express won’t suffice.
As a college kid I guess I’m supposed to look forward to parties and free alcohol on Halloween night. I guess that would be a reasonable assumption, however if I had to choose between cheap, watered down Natty Light and a pillowcase full of delicious Reese’s cups, I personally would prefer the latter.
Featured Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Flickr user Gary Lund.
Jordan Stovka is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.