Then and Now: Halloween Traditions


Imagine sitting at Starbucks drinking a Pumpkin Spice Latte, feeling the cold chill in the air as fall settles in, reminiscing about childhood traditions of dressing up as a princess, or as a character from a favorite childhood TV show. For high school kids, everything is different now: there’s the stress of tests, college applications and extracurriculars to focus on rather than carving pumpkins.

Gone are the days of creating Halloween crafts in class, bringing home paper pumpkins and coloring out of the lines. Gone are the days of carefree trick-or-treating wearing matching vampire costumes with friends.

But just because you’re not a kid anymore doesn’t mean you have to let go of the traditions that you used to hold so dear. Instead, it’s time to make new traditions. Traditions that will last through high school, into college, and possibly until you make traditions with your own kids.

As much as you miss your ghost or pumpkin costume, there are a lot of new costumes to try. Instead, try dressing up as a character from your favorite TV shows. Be a doctor from Grey’s Anatomy or one of the fairy tale characters from Once Upon A Time. Growing up changes the kinds of costumes you can wear, but new themes are just as fun.

If you feel that you’re too old to be out trick-or-treating, throw a Halloween party with friends. Get together and come dressed in costumes, relax and watch scary movies. Answer the door in your costumes when you pass out candy to neighborhood kids.

Even if watching horror movies isn’t your thing, there are plenty of movies that still have a thrill factor without jumpscares and nightmares. Plan on watching a Hitchcock marathon or do a throwback to childhood by watching Scooby-Doo mysteries or old Disney Channel scary movies.

A popular tradition when kids are younger is decorating their houses with Halloween decorations. Many people continue to do this or their parents might continue the tradition, but some choose different activities instead, like hanging out with friends.

Moira Campi, a junior, no longer goes all out decorating her house with her dad on Halloween because of the stress of academics and her dad having to work. Instead, she spends Halloween with a group of friends, a tradition she started with her best friend in eighth grade. “At the get together, my friends and I go trick or treating, play video games, eat dinner (or snacks,) and play board games.” Campi says.

Campi, despite being a junior, comments that she still goes trick-or-treating on Halloween when she gets together with her friends. Trick-or-treating is another option for Halloween fun that has the added bonus of free treats.

Although it may begin to seem a little taboo to continue trick-or-treating as you reach

high school and the neighborhood is filled with little kids, there is no law saying that high school kids can’t have fun patrolling the neighborhood for sweets. Take a group of friends and continue to live out the popular Halloween tradition. If your friends aren’t interested in trick-or-treating, offer to chaperone a younger family member or family friend and stroll the neighborhood with them.

Junior Peyton Balanay continues to enjoy traditional Halloween pastimes with her family even as she grows older, “We make chili and cornbread and we have an open house and all our neighbors come over and we take the little kids around trick-or-treating,” she says.

There are also a lot of Halloween related activities or DIYs that can be attempted in lieu of trick-or-treating or pumpkin carving. Prior to Halloween, instead of buying a costume make your own. This doesn’t have to mean sewing and complicated pattern-go shopping at Goodwill.

Ask your mom or some friends and look on Pinterest for inspiration. Then take a trip to a thrift store and put together a costume based on your own vision. Creating your own costume adds some excitement leading up to Halloween and gives you the  freedom to put your own spin on a popular character.

If you have a baking side, look up some recipes for Halloween themed treats to make. If you’re baking-challenged, many stores carry pre-made cookies that only require being baked in the oven. Baking Halloween treats or making snacks could provide a well-needed respite from scary movie watching on Halloween night.

Sophomore Grace Dibble describes her own experience of making treats on Halloween: “I go to a friend’s house and we make cookies,” she says.

For people who love the spirit of Halloween but not getting scared, try visiting a pumpkin patch or a corn maze. There are many places in the area that transform a section of the park or a parking lot to become a pumpkin patch filled with fun games. suggests checking out Jacobs Farms and Pick of the Patch Pumpkins for some Halloween fun.

If you feel like you might be too old to enjoy what a pumpkin patch has to offer, bring along a younger family member and start a new tradition with them. Have fun watching them get excited about something you used to cherish.

Haunted house and scary movie lovers should consider visiting a haunted theme park or other Halloween themed attraction. Great America transforms into Halloween Haunt at night, bringing out haunted houses and scary mazes.

Traverse the theme park that converts into something out of a horror movie as you dodge creatures jumping out at you from all directions. Halloween Haunt also offers free shows (once inside the park) that combine the scariness of Halloween with dancing and music. Every thrill seeking member of your group will be able to find something to entertain them.

Visiting haunted theme parks, watching scary movies and wearing costumes might be traditional, but they aren’t a requirement for Halloween. Some people opt out of conventional ways of celebrating Halloween and create their own customs.

 One of these people is freshman Katelyn Lohbeck. Lohbeck and her family began the tradition of going camping on Halloween. “We go camping at Koa campground in Aptos. One year, I think when I was 8, we saw an ad for this campground and decided to go with some friends. We have done it every year since.”

So as you sit drinking your Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks, don’t be sad about Halloween traditions that seem to have slipped right through your fingers. Create a new tradition or think of a new, creative way that you can still enjoy Halloween, even though you’re no longer a little kid.