This is when I get to put on my velour bathrobe, wag my finger like an excitable geezer, and start sentences with "In my day..."
Before writing this post, I didn't think there was any significant difference between Halloween now as compared to when I was a young whippersnapper. Obviously the candy has changed - I got Good'n'Plenty, kids today get Nerds.... big deal.
But the more I reflected on it, the more I realized there really has been a marked change in the holiday. The Halloween of 2011 is significantly different than the Halloween of '74. Although, I wouldn't say it's unrecognizable, I would say that certain differences should be pointed out...
1. Halloween costumes for females are slutty looking; whereas, girls just dressed silly back in the day.
Let's be clear - I'm not complaining. I'm just pointing out a fact - chicks in the seventies, as foxy as they were, didn't use Halloween as an excuse to dress sexy. Think about it: in the days of hot pants and tube tops, they didn't need an excuse. Every day was an opportunity for hotness. I'm just sayin'.
2. Most neighborhoods are quiet and desolate on Halloween night; whereas, every neighborhood was abuzz with trick-or-treaters back in the day.
I'm not sure exactly why this is, but it seems like a lot of neighborhoods are straight up empty Halloween night these days. Maybe it's because they're deemed unsafe, or maybe it's just because all the families got in cars to hit the "popular" spots.
A big reason is that a lot of kids don't trick-or-treat at all. My understanding is that a lot places do something called "trunk or treat", where a bunch of people (usually a church congregation) park their cars in a big parking lot, and the kids go from car to car to "trunk or treat". Goddamn that sounds lame.
3. Back in the day, stores might decorate, but it was nowhere near the commercial smackdown that it is today.
Don't get me wrong, Halloween was celebrated in the seventies - more so than today in many ways. It's just that soul crushing levels of marketing and consumerism hadn't quite kicked in yet. Fast forward to 2011, and you're liable to lay down a couple hundred on the holiday and not think twice about it. My parents bought a pumpkin, a shit costume for me and my brother, and that was it.
4. The fear that Halloween was "The Devil's Holiday" was the opinion of a very small fringe of religious fanatics; today, it's a commonly held belief.
I don't recall there EVER being a Fall Festival or Harvest Carnival growing up. We weren't afraid of Halloween back then. It was all in good fun.... or so we thought.
There's a King of the Hill episode that deals with this recent phenomenon of Satanic paranoia perfectly. Poor Hank's Halloween carnival has been closed down in favor of a so-called "Hallelujah House". Hank can't figure out why everyone suddenly thinks Halloween is evil when all he wanted to do was trick or treat with his kids.
To me, "Harvest Festival" sounds much more pagan than "Halloween" anyway.
5. Halloween was made for kids - not teenagers and adults. Now it's for everybody.
Look. I'm young at heart, and I'm glad the holiday is for everybody nowadays. I'm just stating a fact: if you were in high school, Halloween used to be a time to egg houses, smash mailboxes and leave dog shit on people's doorsteps. No dressing up allowed.
If you were an adult in the 1970s, there were probably not a lot of Halloween parties to attend - you could catch a late nigh horror flick, but that was about it. Halloween was a kids' holiday in the seventies, plain and simple.
If you've ever seen the Freaks and Geeks Halloween episode, you've seen this fact played out beautifully. Sam Weir wants to hang on to the magic of Halloween; however, he's in high school now and supposed to put away childish things. A heart wrenching episode, that I guess wouldn't apply much to 2011 where Halloween is no longer such a kiddie thing.
If you would like to extend this Top 5 list with some of your own Halloween Differences, please drop them in a comment. I'd love to hear it.
Oh, and I almost forgot - Happy Halloween!