We visit the States quite often, but aren’t often here for Halloween — which is a shame, because it’s by far the most entertaining holiday the USA has to offer. Like most things that are truly great, Halloween is deeply weird when you stop to think about it. An entire society that wants to be terrified? Darling toddlers transformed into blood-sucking ghouls? Children encouraged to accept candy from strangers? Even pumpkin carving; I mean, it’s cool, but let’s not pretend it’s normal.
So we were excited be in Ohio for Halloween, this year. Our nieces and nephew are still in the right age-range for dressing up, and it’s always fun to see them get into their costumes. And in the week leading up to the holiday, we enjoyed checking out the house displays, which seem to get more elaborate every year. On Saturday evening, we set up our chairs and got ready for the parade of monsters. Trick-or-Treating was actually being held on the 28th — three full days before the actual holiday. It’s become commonplace for “Beggar’s Night” (as it’s apparently called) to be scheduled on a weekend instead of Halloween itself. I suppose that makes it easier for families, but it kind of makes the 31st feel like an after-thought.
But the kids could care less whether it’s Beggar’s Night or Halloween, as long as they can fill their baskets with candy! We had a huge bucket filled to the brim with bite-size chocolates and individually-wrapped sweets, confident that it would last us through the scheduled two-hour window, but we had seriously underestimated the number of youngsters prowling the neighborhood. Right at 6pm, the first vampire strolled up to us, squeaking out a not-particularly fearsome “trick or treat”. Although tempted to answer “trick”, we dutifully handed over the goods.
Nowadays, everything is so regimented, it feels like some of the holiday’s spirit has been lost. At the risk of sounding old (“everything was better in my day grumble-grumble”), I remember being a terror on Halloween night, running around the neighborhood with my punk friends until well after dark, and not worrying about schedules or protocol. But tonight, just about every kid was chaperoned by their parents, and they were all instructed to say “thank you” as they received their Twizzler. I mean, that’s polite of course, but I would have appreciated at least a little devilry … someone running off with our pumpkin to smash it on the street, for instance, or a smoke bomb.
Although the holiday has become more tame, there’s still a lot to enjoy, primarily all the cute kids in their costumes, many of which were really well-done. We got to see scary clowns, wicked witches, tiny superheroes with poofy muscles, and even a Trump Baby. We adults kept ourselves powered up with frequent dips into the candy bowl, but soon had to stop ourselves — after just the first hour, our supply had dwindled to almost nothing! It wasn’t going to last, and we weren’t about to go to the store for more, so we had to strategize. We waited until there was just a single trick-or-treater, without anyone queuing up behind her, and made her eventing by dumping everything we had left into her pumpkin basket — and then we grabbed our chairs, ran inside, and turned off the lights… just in case one of the little demons had a trick up their sleeves after all.
More Photos of Springfield’s Beggars Night – Halloween 2023:
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