My Halloween mask

Pumping up pumpkins for Halloween 2021

Or #TrickorTreat

Scrabbling around on the pavement for two 5p coins thrown at us by an elderly woman my friend and I wondered if this was what it was all about.

It was a mild end of October day where the leaves were turning brown, orange and red and crunching underfoot.

E.T. was the first time I was aware of trick or treating
Trick-Or-Treating On Burns Street
Halloween displays like this one in Forest Hills, New York, are very common in East Coast America (“Trick-Or-Treating On Burns Street” by Joe Shlabotnik is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Trick or Treat in San Diego
Some might say this woman is a bit too old for trick or treating (“Trick or treat” by San Diego Shooter is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The glistening silvery coins were the only treat we received. All the other houses we knocked on said they had given out their funsize Mars bars to children hours before.

We didn’t play any tricks.

It was our first time trick or treating.

We were in our first year at university. It was around the same time when some schools banned Harry Potter books because they contained wizards.

When I was growing up Halloween wasn’t as big in the UK as it is now.

Halloween Disneyland 2013
For some reason the States has turned a scary day of trying to ward off evil spirits into a ‘cutesy holiday’ and nowhere is this more evident than in this 2013 photograph of Halloween at Disneyland (“Disneyland Halloween Time – 2013 Edition” by Justin in SD is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Halloween Zaragoza 2011
Is this picture scary or is it just bizarre? (“halloween zaragoza 2011” by gaudiramone is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)
People traditionally watch scary movies on Halloween. Scream deconstructed the rules of the genre

People did trick or treat but not in my area. My only real experience of it was the scene in E.T. where Gertie dresses up as a cowgirl.

Nowadays it is different. Usually the local Facebook groups I’m in are consumed by people asking where is the best place to have a Sunday roast (answer: if you have an oven then the best place is your home).

This week though it has been parents asking whether people are taking their children trick or treating on Saturday or Sunday (answer: the best time is on Halloween rather than the day before).

And nowadays people also don’t seem to play any tricks.

They didn’t understand because, despite some people insisting that Halloween is an American thing, I’d argue its roots are firmly entrenched in the Pagan festival of Samhain.

My Halloween mask
Going to a Halloween party was the exact excuse I needed to buy this mask
Pumpkin Farm pictures are big hits on Instagram
This woman has adopted the classic Instagram influencer ‘Look at me but I won’t look at you’ pose

And I’d say trick or treating started with All Saints’ Day (All Hallows’ Day).

But I’d suggest the one thing America has given the Brits – and for the UK it is a fairly recent phenomenon – is the trip to the “pumpkin patch” so a child can have their picture taken for Instagram.

It was something I first became aware of in, I believe, 2019 when my friends on the East Coast of America took their daughter to a pumpkin farm.

How many people go to pumpkin farms just to take pictures and don’t want to buy pumpkins?
I sense this pumpkin farm is a real one – because it isn’t in the UK

If you live near a pumpkin farm then it’s a great thing to do but I question the authenticity of quite a few of the pictures I’ve seen from “pumpkin patches” in the UK.

Most of them look less like a pumpkin patch and more like a farmer has bought some gourds from Tesco, taken the labels off and then placed them in a field.

I know Instagram is a land full of fakery and maybe a fake pumpkin patch will teach children this life lesson early.

But, I ask,ย  when will it end? Will children be pictured at a Christmas tree farm with axe in hand for Instagram – when they are really just posing in a layby off the A40 near a pile of bagged up trees?

Stay safe for another week!