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Halloween – Trick or Treat

Posted by Big Boo on October 31st, 2008

First of all, I couldn’t resist using a picture of my namesake from the Mario games as an image to accompany this post.  I give you Big Boo!

Anyway, I’ve nothing to go on here except for my memory, but I reckon it was sometime during the 1980’s when the concept of Trick or Treat at Halloween (or more correctly Hallowe’en) made it’s way over to the UK.  Halloween was never really celebrated much in old blighty before then, other than perhaps having a scary movie on TV and parents telling children scary stories about witches and monsters being out at night.

I certainly never went Trick or Treating as a child and I don’t remember any other kids knocking on the front door either during my younger years.  However, I do also remember this changing one year when I must have been around ten.  At school we had been allowed to make Halloween costumes out of black plastic bin liners, and I remember desperately wanting to go out and knock on doors for sweets.  My parents wouldn’t let me though, and I remember my Dad telling me to go out into the back garden and wave my magic wand a bit to frighten off any ghosts or ghouls that might be about.  I did this, but soon gave up when the blackness of the garden and the strange sounds of night sent be back indoors with a tingle down my spine (what a coward!).

Today in the UK the Trick or Treat concept has been adopted a little more, although still not to the extent that I assume it must have in the US given references from film and TV.  The shops of course pounce on any opportunity to sell plastic witch costumes and fake blood, and even pumpkins.  Try buying a pumpkin at any other time of the year and you’ll probably be hard pressed, but come Halloween there are loads in store, and I’d hazard a guess that the majority of them end up being carved into Jack O’Lanterns and very few actually get eaten.

So what changed to bring the tradition of Trick or Treat to British kids? My theory is that it’s all down to one film – E.T The Extra Terrestrial.  In this film there is a segment where Elliot and company dress E.T. up as a ghost to go Trick or Treating.  I find this quite amusing, given that if he were real E.T. would have had the greatest Halloween costume in history if he were to wear nothing!  Given that E.T. was released in 1982 this would seem to tie up with the time period of the memory I described above pretty well.

Am I right?  As I said I’ve only my own memories to go on, but certainly round our way Trick or Treating never really occured until I had really outgrown the idea.  Do you agree?  What are your memories of Halloween?  And if you’re from the US, do the kids really celebrate Halloween in the way films and TV suggest they do?  Please post a comment below to let us know what you think!