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Trick or treat? Just when did this ridiculous Americanisation of our traditional evening of spooking come about?

It certainly wasn’t around when we were growing up, Hallowe’en was a simple affair. As kids we dressed up draped in old sheets and wandered the streets in a vain attempt to spook those quietly minding their own business, maybe we’d have an old tin bath or bowl filled with water so we could have a go at ducking apples as well, but there was certainly no knocking on doors, we wouldn’t have dared.

I was reminded recently that in the 1970s we used to hold Hallowe’en parties at the children’s homes in which I worked, fairly simple affairs we’d sort out suitably ghostly costumes for our younger residents and entertain ourselves within the confines of the home, with party cakes, ghoulish games, ducking apples and lots of fake blood and sinister make-up.

I guess I first became aware of the growing “Trick or Treat” phenomena in the early 1980s, when my cousin from Canada and her young children came to visit, it must have been late October as the youngsters were on about going “Trick or treating” that evening; I beg your pardon, what?

In this day and age when kids are protected from every imaginable threat to their young lives, it seems inconceivable that it is acceptable for them to go round knocking on stranger’s doors demanding sweets or else some trick will be played if there are none forthcoming. I’m lucky in this respect, there are no kids living anywhere near me, well apart from the two young teenage boys who live opposite, but as they seemingly never go out to play they’re highly unlikely to be bothering me or anyone else this evening. In any case, I shall be keeping all my lights in the off position and will definitely not be answering the door.

This photograph was taken over forty years ago in 1974 during the period I worked at a special school near Cardiff, probably one of the largest Hallowe’en parties with which I was ever involved.

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