Challenges of growing up with Halloween

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Kate Rarey, Staff Writer

    There is one thing I know for certain about Halloween: it doesn’t mean the same thing to someone who is six as it does to someone who is 16. When you’re young, Halloween is about the candy, the costumes and the glamour of being someone that you’re not for a whole night. It’s about decorating your house with your parents and making Halloween-themed crafts at school. However, once you start growing out of the excitement of dressing up as a policeman or princess, it becomes something completely different.

   There is no clear distinction as to when it happens, but one year you’re going trick-or-treating with your friends, and the next you’re going out to parties. One year you’re all decked out in the zombie costume you worked for weeks on, and the next you throw on an old hat you found in the basement and call it a costume. It’s no one’s fault, but there’s no denying it happens. The real mystery is why.

   Some think it’s natural, that obviously the nature of the holiday changes to fit whatever you’re interested in at that age. But even so, a princess at seven hardly resembles one at 17. On the other hand, some believe it may be due to the fact that as you start getting older, trick-or-treating becomes a thing of the past, an activity far too childish to be seen doing. Some neighborhoods even limit the age of trick-or-treaters to 11 or 12. And when there’s nothing to actually dress up for, the nature of the holiday changes directions.

However, why does the focus then turn toward just looking good rather than scary? Is it the pressure to fit in, to look better than everyone else that makes us dress up in flattering rather than frightening outfits?

   From there, the holiday only loses speed. Soon enough those very teenagers will be adults, opening the door for the little kids with bags full of candy. It’s just life; the taker becomes the giver sooner or later, and the little kid dressed up in a ghost costume will become the adult answering the door.

   But high school and college are unsure middle grounds. There’s no reason for it to feel childish to actually dress up on Halloween, but it does. So we turn to humor, dressing up in costumes as a joke or pun, not taking the holiday seriously like we used to. Or, we give up entirely and say goodbye to the costumes.

   We will be revisiting these mysteries for as long as the tradition persists, and they may never be solved. But each year, little kids will continue to knock on doors, adults will answer them and teenagers will try to fit in somewhere in between.

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