Over the years, because of safety concerns retailers have stopped selling individual fireworks and age restrictions have been introduced so that children can no longer buy them. The tradition of asking for money seems therefore to have carried over to the 'new' tradition in the UK of trick-or-treating. I've written here before about how in the 20+ years since I left the UK, Halloween has claimed a place in British culture and I bemoaned the homogenization of cultures. But wait - it seems the British have added their own small twist to the tradition of trick-or-treating. I had heard my mother mention it, but was not sure whether to believe her. Today I read on the BBC site about how
On Halloween in 1986, the House of Lords debated the "recently imported trick-or-treat custom of demanding money on threat of playing a nasty trick, now being used by youths to obtain money from old people and others.I get the impression that there are many who go out trick-or-treating in the UK prepared to 'trick' - throw eggs at cars or commit other acts of vandalism. I have never seen that happen here in the US. In some communities I've seen 'TP Night' celebrated the night before Halloween, when kids throw large quantities of toilet paper at trees, but I've never seen any really damaging vandalism. This year the kids here were particularly polite. Although some of the kids had pillow cases for their candy, none were particularly greedy, and almost all asked if we were offering them one candy or more than one. Even the older kids, though noisy as they moved from one house to the next, were unfailingly polite and had made an effort to dress up.
Their lordships saw trick or treating not as a tradition, but as American for begging.
On National Public Radio this morning there was a report about how Halloween is the 4th most commercial 'holiday' in the US nowadays (the others being Christmas, the SuperBowl, and New Year!) It seems that one way or another, it's all about the money.