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Childhood Halloween Traditions

Published by Rubin Schrager

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What My Family Used to Do at Halloween

When I was a kid, my family and I always went over to my aunt’s house for Halloween. My cousin and I are only six months apart in age, so I always went trick-or-treating with her and her friends. Below are the highlights or our annual childhood tradition.


Making sure us kids ate something healthy before scarfing down massive amounts of sugar was important to our parents. And to ensure that we finished our dinners, we were not allowed to change into our costumes until we were done eating. Laura, my cousin, was a much faster eater than I was, and so she always got to flaunt her costume in front of me. Luckily for me, I have a younger sister, Sonia, who I could tease whenever the mood struck me-which was often after Laura got to do something I couldn’t. So after watching Laura be excited about her costume, I would brag to Sonia how I was old enough to go trick-or-treating without our parents, and she couldn’t go to as many houses and get as much candy as me because she was too young. I’m not sure if she actually cared.

Getting Ready

After I got into my costume, my mom always did a once over to make sure I would be warm enough. Usually this meant she would make me wear extra clothes that I thought made me look stupid. For example, when I was Belle from Beauty and the Beast, she made me wear a dark yellow turtleneck underneath my gorgeous yellow dress, which to me ruined the effect. When I was Jasmine from Aladdin, she made me wear a blue turtleneck, which of course is not Jasmine-like at all. When I was a witch, she made me wear a purple turtleneck, and when I was…well, you get the idea. She did the same to my sister. My personal favorite was when she had to wear the orange turtleneck as a pumpkin. For two consecutive years.

Once we were fully dressed and had our flashlights and pumpkin-shaped baskets for collecting candy (not the ideal size if you want lots of candy-my mother was thinking ahead), my aunt and my mom turned into paparazzi. Although it wasn’t nearly as bad as when I went to prom, I was still upset because it cut into my candy time. There were only a couple hours left until bedtime, and I didn’t want to waste any of it preserving memories.


Laura’s neighborhood was pretty big, so there were plenty of houses for trick-or-treating. The routine was usually pretty simple: ring the doorbell, say the magic phrase, thank the person, then move on. However, there was one house that always scared me.

Laura’s next-door neighbor’s goal every Halloween was to scare as many kids as possible. He did this by putting on a gorilla mask and growling every time someone rang his doorbell. Every year, I had to hang back while Laura and her friends rang the doorbell, then I would try and dart in between everyone, grab the candy, and dart back to the street before I had a chance to be scared. I don’t think it ever worked, and I was eight before that stop on our trick-or-treating route didn’t make me cry.

The Goods

Once we finished trick-or-treating, Laura, Sonia, and I would immediately go into the living room, dump out our candy onto the floor, and sort. I always had three piles: one for chocolate, one for fruity flavors, and one for candy I didn’t like and wanted to trade for better candy.

Unfortunately, my cousin, my sister, and I had similar tastes in candy. Oftentimes we spent the better part of an hour haggling and trying to get the most Jolly Ranchers. Luckily for me, I had a younger sister so I could trade promises of playing games with her for candy. But, over time, she realized the true value of candy and learned to resist my offers.

When we were done negotiating, we were each allowed to eat one piece of candy. Then it was bedtime.




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