My Best Halloween Memories

Jack-o-lantern with a light burning inside of it is sitting next to a wooden calendar that says October 31Occasionally, I wander away from the usual topics on this site to share personal stories from my life. Today is one of those days.

For about the first decade of my life, my family attended harvest festivals at local churches at the end of October and observed half-price candy day on November 1. (This a very special day that I highly recommend to people from any background who enjoy sugar and keeping their family dentist in business!)

Harvest Festivals

Harvest festivals happened indoors because our town was surrounded by mountains and that time of year could get fairly cold and snowy. These festivals included costumes, music, games like bobbing for apples, and copious amounts of sugar and chocolate. My young mind was never entirely sure how they were that much different from regular Halloween, but any excuse for sweets was music to my ear.

Hay, sheaves, and pumpkins artfully arranged to celebrate the harvest. The pumpkins are sitting next to the sheave and on top of the hay bale. When I was about seven, my family was surprised by Halloween. A few neighbourhood kids knocked on our door to say trick-or-treat one night. We had nothing sweet to give them at first until my dad remembered his small stash of strawberry bon-bons, a hard candy that has a red liquid centre in them.

A year or two later, we had a family friend who understood was the important of choosing the right sweets no matter what name you give to that sugary day at the end of October. I’m sure she had many other admirable personality traits, but almost everything I remember about her is somehow related to the delicious things she kept in her house.

I have a vague memory of visiting her house and getting a little more candy that was definitely only intended for Harvest Festival purposes. It skated just close enough to that other holiday that I felt like I’d gotten away with something. (My parents were in the room and approved of this gift, however).

Secular Halloween

Round tin can filled with halloween candy. My family started celebrating secular Halloween when I was eleven. By that time, we’d moved into a neighbourhood that was known for its generosity, so the streets were packed with families from other areas as well as from our own.

Trick-or-Treating on those nights was exciting. I wanted to run as fast as I could to every house to make sure I didn’t miss a single one.

We lived in Ohio then. Halloween night could be chilly, but it generally didn’t dip below freezing or include snowstorms. Wearing a jacket over your costume was usually sufficient, although I also tried to pick costumes that covered my whole body up. As in, picking something that required a skirt was not the smartest idea unless you had warm tights on underneath it!

Once I reluctantly realized I was too old to trick-or-treat, I reverted to celebrating half-price candy day once again.

Halloween as an Adult

Most of the places I lived in the United States were in rural locations or small towns. While Canada and the U.S. share a lot in common, moving to Toronto did include some surprises along the way.

I was looking forward to switching from receiving candy to giving it out, but it turns out that the apartment buildings here don’t have trick-or-treaters from what I’ve observed.

Luckily, there is always half-price candy day.

What are your favourite Halloween memories?

 

12 Responses to My Best Halloween Memories

  1. I remember enjoying trick-or-treating, and I also enjoyed when I “graduated” to helping my parents give out the candy instead of going around asking for it. I’ve hosted or attended a few fun Halloween parties as an adult, but the complex where I live now doesn’t get any trick-or-treaters so I don’t usually buy candy for giving out any more. (Except at work. I do buy plenty of candy corn pumpkins to share with my co-workers.)

  2. I had no idea you’d lived in Ohio! Yes, Halloween here is often chilly, but I always go out walking anyway. Rain is forecast again for this year, which unfortunately curtails the trick-or-treating. 🙁

    My favorite Halloween memory? Let’s see now… watching “Night of the Living Dead” and then walking to the cemetery across the street was a good one, as was staying up late listening to “The Monster Mash” and Art Bell’s “Ghost to Ghost AM” radio show.

    Mostly, I remember the scary movies and books my parents would give me to read. “Bunnicula,” a children’s version of “Green Tea,” by Sheridan le Fanu. I’d spend all day reading scary stories and watching scary movies and then go hiking in the woods.

    I’m sure I can think of lots more good ones, but my favorite Halloween memory has to be two years ago; I visited a local park, and then went to my Mom’s house, where she’d carved two absolutely splendid-looking pumpkins, which I managed to get a very nice picture of in the Halloween sunset. Then I went for a nighttime walk and watched X-Files reruns. The whole day was just perfect.

  3. Oh, those strawberry candies are a favorite of mine. But I don’t see them much during the Halloween season. I’m always on the lookout during Christmas though. They’re often the “extra” in fancy wrapped gift mugs and the sort. Or in the meat and cheese boxes. My favorite part of those gifts!

    • Heh, I don’t think they’re meant to be a Halloween treat at all.

      Do you have bulk food or dollar stores near where you live? That’s where my family gets them. My local pharmacy will have the around the Christmas season every so often as well.

  4. I took my kids to some harvest parties, but never forbid Halloween–I tempered it a little when they were small because of their pre-me life {adopted]. Strawberry Bon-bons? Are those those candies wrapped in red cellophane that look like a strawberry? If so my son would have loved your dad lol

    Fun post.

    • That makes total sense. I have relatives whose parents made similar choices for similar reasons. 🙂

      And, yes, strawberry bon-bons are wrapped in red cellophane that looks like a strawberry. They’re hard to find. Hope your son gets some of them!

  5. As far as I know, inner-city Canadians living in apartment buildings usually take their kids to the mall. Sometimes, if they have friends who live in a suburb or community, they join up with them.

    I grew up in a small town just outside Ottawa, so I totally feel the whole harvest theme. While we weren’t particularly religious, the United Church across the street had some wonderful craft fairs around this time of year. 🙂

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