Monday, October 28, 2019

Halloween in Alabama by Nancy L. Eady

         In case you missed the store displays and television commercials, this coming Thursday is Halloween.

My Middle Sister and I About to Trick-or-Treat
         In a manner that is uniquely American, we have taken a religious/pagan festival with layered meanings and turned it into a candy fest for children. I’m not complaining. Some of my favorite Halloween memories include both trick-or-treating with my sisters and taking my daughter trick-or-treating. The best part was when you got home and poured out your candy on the table to see what kind of a haul you brought in. “Regular” trick-or-treating still flourishes in Alabama where we have close-knit neighborhoods and subdivisions.

My Daughter, The Little Mermaid
          A variation which has sprung up for people in Alabama whose living places are spread out, such as in our small towns and rural areas, is “trunk-or-treating.”  With “trunk-or-treating,” a church or school or other such organization will have volunteers dress up in costumes and provide candy and other treats for kids at a festival. Since these festivals are usually held in the parking lot of the organization, the trunks of cars are used in the place of houses for the candy. Hence the name, “trunk-or-treating.”  I have taken my daughter to several of those, also, and they have been a lot of fun.

          Two interesting Alabama twists to Halloween are the temperatures and the scheduling. The temperature on Halloween can range from anywhere in the 50s to the 90s. Temperatures in the 50s are perfect Halloween weather. When the temperature reaches the 90s, our kids wear their costumes and sweat it out for candy.

          In Alabama, Halloween does not always occur on October 31. This is because of that American tradition more important down here than even a free candy smorgasbord – high school football. While you would think having Halloween on a Friday or Saturday night would be ideal (and I know it is for the teachers who have to cope with the children on sugar highs when Halloween occurs on a Monday through a Thursday), I know many small towns (and live in one) where a Friday or Saturday night Halloween is changed to the Thursday before so there won’t be a conflict between trick-or-treating and the high school football game. You must check the local paper for the official trick-or-treating hours.

          Each year, we buy candy to give out to trick-or-treaters, but each year we get fewer and fewer. Our neighborhood is small and not on the beaten path, but we are ever hopeful. Since we’ve added several homes in the last year, we’re hoping we’ll pick up a few more visitors this year. The little ones who come to the door are adorable.

My Daughter in a Costume I made, and Me
         What are your favorite Halloween memories?  Do you celebrate Halloween or have children you can go trick-or-treating with?  How many trick-or-treaters show up at your house?  Share your stories of Halloween in the comments below.


  1. No trick or treaters since 2005. That's when we moved from a small town near Miami to rural areas, first in Maine, then in central SW Florida. In both rural locations, kids trick or treat in town and rural families carry them in.

    My favorite Halloween memory is from the first year I owned my house near Miami. A young cowboy of no more than three rang my bell and silently thrust his bag at me. His dad was waiting at the end of the drive. The little boy, still silent, turned to walk toward his father who promptly said, "Don't you say thank you?" The little cowboy stood stock still, then burst into tears. His father and I both ran to him, not knowing what was wrong and the he burbled, "You told me never to speak to strangers." The father and I had a chuckle, but the child was right--how was he supposed to know which rules to break and when!

  2. Alas, we get no trick-or-treaters. We live in a rural area, with only two houses on our road, and we have a long, dark driveway. Around here, families get together and move from house to house (via driving) with each house having a display, treats and often a planned activity for the children.

    It's held on the actual holiday, and while the kids will be excited and active in school both on Halloween and the next day, sharing their stories and their treats, most teachers are aware that there is very little evidence supporting the idea of a "sugar high" in children.


  3. I used to live in a townhouse community - Halloween was quite a party! With so many homes close together, trick or treating was very efficient. Families in more rural areas would bring their children to trick or treat. We went through bags of candy, but I loved seeing all the children (even the teens who were too cool to put on a costume).

    The library here does Trunk or Treat with a literary spin - the trunks are decorated with themes from children's books. I'd love to do it someday.

  4. My church in small-town Illinois is doing this Trunk or Treat right now. It has been very successful over the last few years. I, too, have notices far fewer trick or treaters at the door in recent years, so this seems to be a good alternative.

  5. There may be no scientific evidence for a sugar-high, but as a former teacher and a current parent, the behavior exists whether the scientific reason for it is sugar or something else! The first time my mother-in-law babysat our daughter (we adopted her when she was three), we told my mother-in-law not to give her too much candy or cookies or cake. When we came back, my daughter was almost literally bouncing off the walls and floor and furniture. We look at my mom-in-law and asked, "What did you give her?" She looked just like a kid caught with her hand in the cookie jar as she admitted she gave her a piece of cake.