I distinctly remember learning to spell it in Grade 5 and there was an apostrophe between the Es. Miss Johns told us we needed the apostrophe because we were leaving out the D and V in “Hallowed Eve”. The evening was hallowed because the next day was Hallowmas, or All Saints Day. Miss Johns never mentioned Samhain, which is so much easier to spell. Perhaps she thought we were already confused enough.
Spelling’s not the only thing that’s changed since I was a trick-or-treat-er. We used to make our costumes out of worn sheets and cardboard. As snow was often in the air after dark on Oct. 31, we wore winter jackets and mittens under the costumes. We gathered our treats in pillowcases.
These days, kids can buy a costume for a toonie that’s quite as satisfying as Bristol board wings—and doesn’t fall to pieces if it chances to rain (instead of snow) on Halloween. The ghosts and goblins who come to my house still use pillowcases, though some do carry plastic jack-o-lanterns or witch’s pots. And how long has it been since you’ve soaped windows? Or seen them?
Really — and this seems quite shocking to me — the holiday I once considered equal bits terrifying and exciting has, for many families, become a special opportunity to encourage good manners. Children are taught singular, courteous things to say. “Trick or treat!” they sing out. It seems the threat of a trick has become a polite form of address. And I hear frequent reminders to say thank you. Children can…
Province: | Section : Columnists