By: Rachael Rothman-Kerr

In recent years, Halloween has joined the other major holidays in making its presence known increasingly early; as a Halloween enthusiast, I am pretty happy with this development, but there have also been a lot of other changes to the holiday in the years since I was a trick-or-treater.

When I was the one dressing up, for example, the costume selections available for young girls were decidedly less numerous, not to mention a whole lot sillier. Oddly, I have also noticed that they were most definitely warmer! Boys costumes, too, were more about classic scary monsters and silly creatures rather than superheroes and television characters. Though this change certainly follows the cultural shifts in recent years, as a parent, these particular differences are the most startling from the Halloweens of my own childhood, and the only ones that have caused conversations with my curious tween.

In addition to Halloween starting before back-to-school shopping is even in full swing, decorating has become a much bigger part of the holiday than in years past–a development that I am a big fan of. Halloween decorations are everywhere, and whole neighborhoods get swept up in front yard graveyards and spooky porches with life-sized skeletons and fog machines. The eerie decor has even made its way indoors! Halloween parties have become increasingly popular, not just for the kiddie set, but for grown-ups, too, with everything from themed glassware to throw pillows.

All the extra time that Halloween spends in the spotlight, means more people are participating in the big night, which for today’s trick-or-treaters means they have to cover less ground to fill up their candy buckets, and a lot less darkened porch lights to contend with than some of us did growing up (which also means in our house, the leftover candy hangs around until Valentine’s Day candy replaces it).

One of the biggest developments in the world of trick-or-treating, and a minor blessing to parents everywhere, has been events like “Trunk-Or-Treat”, “Malloween”, and “Boo at the Zoo”, where families can trick or treat in safe, controlled environments, often earlier in the day, and usually on a weekend day, to avoid interfering with school schedules. Though these events evolved in part in response to those silly urban legends of the late 1990s and early 2000s about poisoned candy and razor blades hidden in snack-sized chocolate bars, they are without question a fun alternative for very little ones, and a wonderful–if occasionally frazzling–tradition, that are attended in droves.

Growing up, my family were big fans of Halloween, and I love that I can share that with my own kids. Though I do miss some of the silliness of the amateur vampire face paint that we did growing up, and the pillow-case candy bag holds a lot of nostalgia, the current incarnation of Halloween with its giant door decorations, and blockbuster movie character of the moment costumes is a whole lot of fun!

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