when the harvest moon rises on october 31, little hobgoblins, spooky ghosts, ghoulish witches and gremlins — their young faces hidden behind grotesque masks — will go forth to frighten friends and neighbors and to threaten them with "trick or treat ".
halloween (aii hallows eve) as the name implies, is a nighttime holiday, the one night in the year when the child's world turns to pure fantasy. children take all the lead parts while parents and other adults play the supporting roles. encouraged by teachers and merchants and the remembrance of the good time they had the earlier year, children (from 3 to 11 years old) start preparing their costumes and halloween decorations weeks ahead. although parents help the children very much prepare the costumes, on halloween they must pretend to be frightened by the masked visions that suddenly appear. there will be little witches in long black dresses with tall-pointed hats and magic broomsticks to carry them over the rooftops — to a neighbor's house in the next block. ghosts in sheets run with tell-tale sneakers and half socks showing; and terrible pirates with skull and cross-bones painted on their three-cornered hats. some carry jack-o'-lanterns but all carry bags or unicef boxes marked "trick or treat", which fill up very fast.
teenagers have their fun playing tricks that sometimes get rather rough. they throw eggs or tomatoes at passing motorists , mark up windows and windshields with hard-to-erase candle wax, roll pumpkins down long hills, carry away porch furniture and garbage can covers, engrave graffiti on fences, or do whatever bad things occur to them as they go around looking for ways to "let off steam". police officers are alert but they only arrest those caught doing real damage. in most communities there are school dances or block parties to help redirect the energies of the youthful pranksters. business firms offer prizes for the best costumes and recreation directors help plan
the party, but the young people themselves take charge of the entertainment and the decorations — a necessary part of halloween. dried corn stalks, pumpkin faces, and piles of apples create the harvest atmosphere; and cutouts of witches on their brooms, goblins, ghosts and black cats symbolize the witchcraft aspect of the holiday. the freshments — apple cider, popcorn and pumpkin pie, and witches made of spicy ginger cookies — also carry out both themes.
there is an occasional adult halloween dance in a bright orange and black setting, with paper-made black cats, witches and grinning skeletons floating above the dance floor. but halloween has become mainly a young people's holiday — and the younger the child the more exciting he finds it.