Here we are on the eve of one of the most bizarre, yet civic-based holidays we have. Halloween.
I am sure there is a lot of cultural significance in which a holiday is built around children dressing up as the scariest creature they can be and then visiting their neighbor’s house for a candy bar. On the surface, there is a lot there that doesn’t make a great deal of sense. Yet, there is something compelling about this beguiling celebration.
Here are some observations about Halloween, I see every year that make it one of our more interesting celebrations.
This may surprise you, but there is actually an anthem celebrating this holiday entitled, “It’s Halloween.” The reason you have never heard this song is that song is an absolute disaster. The song was written and performed by the group called The Shaggs. The Shaggs were three sisters that tried their hand at pop music in 1968. The girls’ grandmother had her palm read as a young lady and saw her future. Her future son was going to marry a strawberry blonde and her granddaughters would form a musical group.
Well, everything went according to plan until you actually hear the music. “It’s Halloween” is the worst song you have never heard. There is no rhythm, the singing sounds like yaks wailing in agony and the attempt to play drums and electric guitars are indiscernibly horrific. I would never endorse this, but if you want to make someone’s life miserable, play “It’s Halloween” over and over and over again.
And of course, the critical part of Halloween is the candy. Over the past few years when my children have come home from getting their hauls of calorie-laden, sugar-filled junk food, I am amazed by what I find.
I am amazed by the generosity of our neighbors. There are usually one or two full-sized candy bars that find themselves into my children’s baskets. Furthermore, the ratio of Reese’s peanut butter cups to other candy has steadily grown over the years. I often think that the best barometer of a community’s economy is not measured through statistics, like household median income, but better measured by looking at the Halloween candy that is passed out.
Yet, I am still amazed by the number of Mary Jane candies I see. These rock hard, peanut-butter-and-molasses-flavored pieces of taffy must have some diehard fans. I don’t get it. I have never met a child that truly enjoyed getting a Mary Jane. Furthermore, I have never seen Mary Janes sold in stores. In the list of worst Halloween candies, Mary Jane must be at the top of the list. They are hard, they are stale, and they don’t taste great. Why do we live in a world that still makes Mary Janes? If you like them, more power to you. You are a better person than I am.
And of course, there are the costumes. At our home, I have the responsibility to pass out the candy and over the past few years, I have learned way more about young people than I bargained for. Each year these costumes test my ability to stay abreast of popular culture. For example, I had no idea who Harley Quinn was last year. That was until Halloween and I learned that the Joker was smitten with her.
For the most part, the costumes are great. Nothing in this world is cuter than watching a pre-schooler dressed up like a Disney Princess or a cowboy or a dragon walk up and ask for a piece of candy.
Yet, there are still way too many teenagers that don’t put enough effort into this event. It’s as if they realized at 5:30 p.m. that Halloween is starting in 30 minutes. They will inevitably mess up their hair, put on a pair of flannel plants and proudly declare that they are a “Sleeping Teenager” or something to that effect. Oh, please.
If you are going to enjoy this holiday, please do it responsibly. Put effort in your costume, pass out candy that kids want to receive and you feel good giving. And for heaven’s sake, please do not listen to The Shaggs.
William “Bill” Lutz is executive director of The New Path Inc. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.