Trick or be treated like an adult
At what age does Halloween become less about candy and more about holding onto childhood nostalgia?
How old is too old to go trick or treating? According to a GH article, the consensus people came to was 18.7 years. Although generous, this would directly conflict with Chesapeake, Virginia’s city’s ordinance. Ironically, The Virginian Pilot has an article detailing the full extent of the “lowest criminal penalty in Virginia.”
In 2019, the city in Virginia passed their “Trick or Treat” law that threatens their local teenagers with fines if they are caught trick or treating over the age of 14. Unless they are accompanying their younger sibling, teens will be faced with a $250 fine and a class four misdemeanor.
“I stopped trick or treating when I was 15,” says Saddleback student Walker Nelson. “It was my sophomore year of high school and I secretly wanted to do it, but nobody else did and I figured I was too old for it anyway.”
If Nelson were living in Chesapeake, he’d find himself digging $250 out of his piggy-bank. The law in Virginia makes the idea of dressing up over the age of 14 sound like a dangerous game. This could either promote sneaking around or discourage dressing up even in the comfort of your own home or for parties.
“I do still dress up because I love to be something else for a night or two,” Nelson said. “October is the one month where everyone is okay with people pretending to be something else. Plus it’s fun to feel like you are a character that you admire or something you can’t physically become, like a vampire or James Bond or Naruto.”
As a person gets older, Halloween becomes less about dressing up to get candy and more about dressing up just because. For many people that still celebrate Halloween well into their adult years, it’s less about trick or treating and more about trying to recreate the excitement that night gave them once before.
Sitting down to watch Halloween classic movies like “Casper”, “Young Frankenstein” or “Nightmare Before Christmas” with a bowl of candy (or maybe some Pillsbury ready to bake Halloween cookies, if you were able to find them before they flew off the shelves) is definitely something to look forward to each year. And let’s not forget how fun it is to finally be old enough to watch horror movies with your parents!
Although, making time seems to become more and more difficult when people get older. Work, school and homework have all thrown a wrench into everyone’s holiday plans at one point or another.
“I stopped trick or treating, I think, my freshman year of high school,” says Saddleback student Trevor Roach. “I can’t remember any specific reason why, I think I just got busy and didn’t really think about it.”
So, for the people that don’t live in Virginia, is it a matter of growing out of trick or treating or running out of time to? For Saddleback student Alexa Parvaneh the answer to this question is a simple one.
“Once I got a debit card at 13, I learned I can buy candy and the excitement of trick or treating faded,” Parvaneh said. “But I always look forward to dressing up and I shamelessly create yearly Halloween Pinterest boards.”
For others, the answer is more complicated. Being a kid is fun and as adults we tend to look back onto our childhoods, especially around the holiday season, with rose-colored glasses, but it isn’t always easy. Sometimes, the choices you make are less about what you want and more about what your peers want.
“I was around the age of 11 when I stopped trick or treating,” says Saddleback student Chloe Konoske. “I think I stopped going because I felt too old for it after entering middle school. Most of my peers stopped around then, so I followed their lead.”
Peer pressure, whether it be spoken or unspoken, is notorious for causing kids to change their outlook on style, family life and holiday activities. Peer pressure can be a good thing, but oftentimes when people reflect on their childhood choices, peer pressure does not play a positive role.
There comes a point in time where people can either stop listening to peer pressure and start listening to themselves or let peer pressure control their lives. This can be seen in the way people use social media to express themselves and who they choose to associate with in life.
“I still dress up for Halloween,” Konoske said. “Sometimes I’ll do different costumes for different occasions. It’s always been fun for me to piece together different looks and Halloween is just an opportunity for me to be more extreme.”
The variables covered that have provided enough reason to stop participating in trick or treating thus far have been: laws, running out of time, running out of motivation and peer pressure. For some unlucky few, the cause for their ending of an era was a little more … awkward.
“I stopped trick or treating at age 13,” says Saddleback student Braden Elliott. “Because at that point I was 5’10 and the amount of parents looking at me and saying ‘Never too old to trick or treat huh?’ was embarrassing.”
But what about the children who still exist within every adult? What about the people that stopped and can’t recall why? It’s sad to say, but sometimes the notion of magic surrounding a certain holiday activity just loses its luster.
Each year I hear people ask each other “what did you do for Halloween?” And each year I hear “I didn’t do Halloween this year.” Why not?
No one will frown at you for divulging in the consumption of some sweet treats on the night of Halloween because it seems like everyone, especially during their college years, will take any chance they can get to recreate a tiny ounce of childhood nostalgia. Is it being too busy or being too lazy?
It will always be easy to make excuses, but excuses aren’t fun, they’re stressful. You know what is fun? Being able to confidently say you put together an entire costume yourself.
As I get older, I find myself encouraging the people around me to dress up so that I don’t feel like a sore thumb sticking out because the peer pressure mindset is a hard one to shake. Even if people don’t dress up though, I still will. And although I won’t be getting free candy for it, I will be getting free compliments because people applaud participation in holiday traditions nowadays.
As time marches on, generation after generation reach a certain point where they realize just how hard it is to recreate the authenticity of some of their favorite holidays. For people that loved horror from a young age, they will always have horror around Halloween time, but for the ones that just liked the atmosphere that surrounded them when trick or treating, that’s hard to capture as an adult.
Halloween has come and gone and although the bowl of candy by my front door was tempting, I was more excited to hand out candy to the kids. I found myself wanting to make sure they got the perfect amount of the perfect kinds and exactly what they wanted. I complimented their costumes and made jokes with the parents.
I realized Halloween can still be fun as long as you want it to be. It doesn’t matter whether or not you trick or treat, it just matters whether or not you want to participate. This Halloween made me realize just how much I’m looking forward to trick or treating with my kids and taking the very necessary “parent percentage” amount of candy from their haul.
Maybe being treated like an adult on Halloween won’t be so bad afterall.
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