Changing traditions should defy age

Halloween has lost its youthfulness, morphing into a holiday unrecognizable from its original form.

Halloween has lost its youthfulness, morphing into a holiday unrecognizable from its original form.

Every year during the holiday season, ABC makes it a point to show A Charlie Brown Christmas – and I make it a point to watch it. I am then usually asked if I’m too old to be watching Charlie Brown.Picture 9

With Halloween right around the corner, ABC aired It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown yesterday.

In this special, Linus tries to stay up on Halloween night in anticipation of seeing the Great Pumpkin. He eventually falls asleep in the pumpkin patch, refusing to believe that the Great Pumpkin does not exist. Meanwhile, Charlie Brown and the rest of the gang do the “grown-up thing” and go trick-or-treating, and Sally, Linus’ sister, questions why he wastes his time waiting for the Great Pumpkin when he is old enough to go trick-or-treating.

But how old is too old to enjoy Halloween for what it really is? How old is too old to trick-or-treat or dress up? It seems that once you reach a certain age, you’re not allowed to celebrate Halloween traditionally – you have to find alternatives, which often stray from the original idea of the holiday.

While trying to convince Charlie Brown’s sister, Lucy, to believe in the Great Pumpkin, Linus asks, “You don’t believe the story of the Great Pumpkin? I thought little girls always believed everything that was told to them. I thought little girls were innocent and trusting.”

“Welcome to the 20th century,” Lucy replies.

As Lucy points out, the traditions of Halloween continue to change. Originally a Celtic tradition in Ireland, the Sanhein – a Gaelic and Brythonic festival – honored the end of the harvesting season and beginning of the cold, death-filled winter. Halloween later transformed into a holiday of ghosts, costumes and trick-or-treating – a ritual used during the potato famine to gather extra food.

Halloween has transformed yet again. Now, it is barely a holiday, but rather a festival honoring raunchy clothing and parties. Even children desire the alternative, “older” version of Halloween, which includes more provocative costumes and Halloween parties that hardly involve bobbing for apples. In an attempt to be “grown-up,” today’s tweens are actually missing out on childhood and young adults – mainly high school and college students – are missing out on the integrity of the holiday.

It’s inevitable that as we age we will separate ourselves from the “trivial things.” But, at the same time, we should enjoy all-things Halloween – It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, Goosebumps and Scooby-Doo, trick-or-treating, candy and of course, dressing up.

There’s a Linus in all of us – a firm believer that just because we’re growing up doesn’t mean we have to disown the things that once made us happiest.

Samantha Byles can be reached at

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