Halloween is the same every year. You dress up, go to houses of strangers and neighbors alike and ask for a treat.
The difference is, are you a kid asking for candy at someone’s front door or a college student asking for free booze at a fraternity house?
Every October, logging onto social media will, before too long, result in some kind of angsty, nostalgic post from a 20-something about how they miss trick-or-treating for Halloween.
There’s always someone on social media who shares an edgy post about how they miss how magical Halloween could be when they were a kid. Maybe it’s someone you lost contact with after high school, maybe it’s someone from your freshman year dorm you stopped talking to, or maybe it’s you. Maybe you feel personally attacked by this column so far. But someone’s always posting it.
The thing is, once you get older, Halloween’s really not any different from when you were a kid.
Yeah, you read that right.
As a child, Halloween is a magical opportunity to dress up in a ridiculous costume your parents probably wouldn’t let you out of the house in under any other circumstance, walk around at night, collect candy and hang out with other kids in costume.
You knock on strangers’ doors and ask for sugary treats, and there’s no repercussions, because you’re expected to follow this tradition. It’s the one time of year you’re encouraged to take candy from strangers, and it’s not weird at all. It’s amazing.
When you’re a kid, Halloween can be the best day of the year. It’s exciting. It’s special. It’s an adventure.
Some people say once you get older, you’ve lost that magic. You could say that about any holiday: waking up on Christmas morning gets less exciting as you grow up, and Thanksgiving can turn from “all you can eat” to “make sure you don’t eat too much.” It’s not abnormal for a holiday to lose that magic.
But, as I said before, Halloween hasn’t changed.
The concept is the same. And guess what? It’s only gotten better.
Let’s take a look, now, at a modern Halloween in Oxford.
Do college students – aged mostly in their late teens and early twenties – still like to dress up? Well, if you go Uptown on the weekend before and/or after Halloween, the answer is undoubtedly yes.
Can you still dress up as anything? Yes – literally anything, as long as you can put it together. In fact, there’s far, far less parental supervision, so you can express yourself however you want on Halloween. You can turn Buzz Lightyear into Buzz Lightbeer and no one will bat an eye.
The media aspect of Halloween has yet to change, either. Movies like Halloweentown and Twitches were cinematic masterpieces in elementary school, and even today, they remain classic movies for the season, though they might seem less intense than they did when you were younger. And if you’re really craving a truly scary movie to get into the Halloween spirit, they’re a dime a dozen, just open up Netflix and take your pick.
But do people still go from house to house looking for treats?
Here’s the kicker: yes.
Going from one Halloween party to another, showing up to bars in costume, isn’t all of this just self-indulging for the sake of the holiday?
The action doesn’t change. You’re still parading around outside, in costume, with your friends, looking for something to consume.
Chasing a drunken high is like chasing that sugar rush you used to as a child.
Is it more dangerous? Obviously.
But is it really much different? The principle remains the same: leave your house, hang out with friends in costume, binge on something dangerous.
(Note: binge drinking is definitely unhealthy. But since when was picking up chocolate from your neighbors and stuffing yourself a healthy activity, either?)
Be realistic. College-aged young adults have long moved past that phase of feeling too cool to dress up for Halloween. The holiday has gotten better: instead of being a one-night-only event, it’s a multi-night outlet to have fun, dress like you wouldn’t normally dress.
So, next time you see anyone complaining that Halloween is “different now,” just scroll past it. It’s probably just going to boil down to another complaint about adult life being harder than life as a child, which is an idea that is neither original nor innovative.