The timeline of Halloween

Yeah I know that Halloween is not until Monday. However, since this weekend is “Halloween weekend,” then I will discuss it now, or else it will be too late.

Halloween is an interesting holiday. I say that, because what you do on this holiday depends on how old you are. As we age, our Halloween festivities evolve. Yeah, there will always be the same themes: candy, costumes, pumpkins, black cats, and all that crap. But, on a more personal level, it does not stay the same.

Allow me to elaborate.

Halloween as a child, ages 5-12

This, in my opinion, is where Halloween hits its apex. There is no better joy in life than your first experience trick-or-treating. Usually, at a young age, you’ll get together with about four or five other families, and you’ll go trick or treating for several hours.

You’ll go to door to door, not even having the slightest clue just how dangerous it is, while collecting shitloads among shitloads of candy. My favorite part of Halloween as an infant was coming home after trick-or-treating, dumping all of my candy out on the floor, and then sorting it out by brand. The Three Musketeers go together, the M&M’s go together, and the Almond Joys all get thrown out.

Of course, you dressed up for the occasion, and if you are a male, then you were one of three things: a ninja, a power ranger, or teenage mutant ninja turtle. At least if it was the early 90s, you were.

It was always fun to see what local homeowners did to their homes and front lawns for the occasion, like hang cobwebs, or turn their property into a graveyard. And when you were a kid, it was spooky.

This joyous tradition continues for a few years. And then when you hit about 10 or 11, and possibly even 12, your parents may become a little more trustworthy and allow you to trick-or-treat later into the night, and maybe with a smaller group. Perhaps they’ll even allow your older brother or sister to supervise you, thus taking away that annoying parental presence. Ah, the liberation.

It was always my goal, during these times, to gather as much candy as I can. If you left a bowl outside with a sign that said “take one,” well, sorry, but I took ten. Deal with it. I still don’t regret it.

In short, these were the days.

Halloween as a young teenager, ages 13-17

This is when things got awkward. Once you become a teenager, trick-or-treating is out of the question. Maybe if you have a kid brother or sister than you can still get away with it, but for the most part, you did not want to be caught dead trick-or-treating. It wasn’t “cool.”

So, what do you do instead? I remember one awkward Halloween, where I was hanging out with a friend at his house, and we knew we were too young to trick-or-treat. However, we didn’t want to be lame, so we decided to go stroll the neighborhood. I remember walking for five minutes when someone tried to hit us with an egg. It barely missed, but you could still consider that my “loss of innocence” as far as Halloween went.

The days of dressing up and going door-to-door with youthful exasperation were over. I thought that I would never enjoy this holiday again. It was a little sad, to be honest. But I would drown my sorrows by eating all the leftover candy that my parents were unable to give away. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got do it.

And then when you turn 15 and 16, Halloween becomes a lot more mischievous. What was once innocent, childlike fun suddenly turned into reckless, potentially dangerous teenage mischief.

Instead of knocking on old Mrs. Johnson’s door to get your share of Raisinettes, you find yourself in your local grocery store picking up eggs, toilet paper and shaving cream. It seems innocent, but tell that to the parents who wake up the next day with rolls of toilet paper in their tree and eggs all over their car. It’s like bullying to the extreme.

Plus you’re driving around while looking for your targets in a pretty reckless manner. Never mind that there were trick-or-treaters all over the place. Honestly, although it was the “thing to do” at the time, I never got much joy out of this. Oh, high school.

Halloween, the college years, ages 18-21.

Welcome to a whole new experience. Remember that part about never dressing up, and never having fun on Halloween again? Yeah, scratch that. In college, Halloween is the biggest party of the year. Even the biggest nerds on campus dress up and hit the bar scene on Halloween.

And with independence comes a whole new level of costumes. Me and my friends used to hit up the Salvation Army and find pretty much whatever we needed for our costumes. I saw things such as Captain Planet, Aladdin, The Geico Caveman and Uncle Sam dressed to perfection.

And don’t even get me started with the girls. No longer under the watchful eye of their parents, and now in the years of their life where they are supposed to “live it up,” girls will dress up in the skimpiest, sluttiest outfits you can imagine. You can pretty much think of any character, and you’ll see it. A slutty nurse, a slutty maid, a slutty teacher, it’s all there. Even Disney characters show up for the sluttiness! You got your slutty Cinderellas, your slutty princess Jasmines and your slutty Snow Whites. It truly is a fairy tale for the eyes.

My one complaint was that the bars used to be absolutely ridiculous at my school on Halloween weekend. It almost wasn’t even worth going in them because they were so packed. People just stood outside in their costumes and conversed with one another. It was pretty awesome. But more importantly, Halloween is fun again.

Halloween, post college, ages 22-27.

Now I fall in the middle of this age range, but I know how it is. This is the age where, yeah, you’re no longer an undergrad, but, shit, you’re not old either. You can still party hardy!

Usually most people will spend at least one Halloween traversing New York City bars in the year or two after college. If you live in New York, of course. It’s a pretty incredible experience.

Parades are happening, streets are closed off, and thousand of thousands of drunk people are walking the streets. Cops are on every corner, but they won’t bother you, especially since everybody’s drunk. They’re really just there to make sure a riot doesn’t break out.

Although, when I did New York City for Halloween, and when I paid $20 to get into a bar and then $10 per drink, I kind of lost my desire to do it again. So now I do what I think most mid-to-late 20 year-olds do; just go to a house party.

This is the best way to go about it for a few reasons. For one, you’re with your friends. Now that everyone’s working at their full-time jobs, or is busy in grad school, it’s hard to get the whole gang together at once. Halloween is the perfect excuse. Plus, you do it while you’re all dressed up.

I should point out that this is probably also the age where girls begin to dress a little more classier, but, you can’t win ‘em all.

This way, you don’t deal with large crowd, expensive prices, potential riots or cold October weather; you just have fun in the confines of a house. Or apartment. And, of course you still dress up. That’s the great thing about Halloween. You’re never too old to dress up. Even when you’re 50, you still do it.

So besides that awkward age when you’re 14 and 15 and you’re “too cool” to do so, dressing up is something that never really goes away. Also, now that you’re smarter, and have money to actually buy stuff, Halloween costumes tend to become more creative and more impressive when you become older.


And that, my friends, is the timeline that is Halloween. What starts out as youthful enthusiasm and joy, turns to adolescent, rebellious pride, turns to teenage transgression, turns to drunken, experimental shenanigans, which turns into quieter, yet still lively and enjoyable times. All while wearing a costume along the way. What is better than that?

Have a good Halloween everyone!

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