The Movement from Private to Public Halloween Celebrations

Way back when Trick or Treating was a phenomenon among kids. Going from neighborhood to neighborhood in our chosen costumes to fill up our bags with candy. The decorations scaring the pants off all of us while we tried to look brave for our friends. People would spend days decorating their houses and gathering the “best” candy to offer the goblins and ghouls. Kids and parents spent months planning and creating a costume that would go down in neighborhood legends. Halloween was a huge party on a private scale.

For years Halloween was something people did in their own house and neighborhoods. It was friends and neighbors handing candy to neighbors and friends. Streets used to be lit up with jack o’ lanterns and lined with parents corralling candy seeking kids. But now it seems that kind of Trick or Treating is going the way of the VHS and cord phones; nostalgic good old days. Slowly, year by year, those jack o’ lanterns have been disappearing until only one or two houses in a neighborhood have decorations. Where are all the kiddies going to fill their sacks full of candy? Into the public domain.

As the private aspect of Halloween dies the public aspect grows out of the ashes. Most cities and institutions are now putting on festivals, block parties, or haunted whatevers. Instead of going from private house to private house kids go from booths run by stores or churches in droves. Instead of neighbors celebrating with each other it is the local hardware store celebrating with the local gym. Halloween has become less about people coming together and more about business making connections and drawing people in. Halloween has become a city wide holiday and has lost some of its scare factor. Since these celebrations are public they have to keep everyone happy and so can no longer scare the pants of everyone.


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