As the popularity of Halloween grows every year - from
supermarkets offering gory produce to pumpkin-carving and
fancy-dress parties - Debrett's has developed an invaluable set of
etiquette guidelines for Halloween.
With origins in Celtic paganism, Halloween originated as a festival marking the end of summer. Celebrated in Ireland, Wales and Scotland, celebrations involved lighting bonfires to ward off malignant spirits, while children went from door to door disguised as creatures from the underworld to collect treats.
Immigrants from the British Isles took the custom to North America. Turnips transmuted into pumpkins and the 'trick or treat' custom became more prominent. With the help of Hollywood and a host of horror films, Halloween has become entrenched in popular culture.
Debrett's - the modern authority on etiquette and manners - has provided some etiquette tips for Halloween trick or treaters:
- "Trick or treat?" should be used as an ice-breaking formula, not a real threat. Halloween fun should never feel menacing.
- Children should not be too greedy - if they are offered treats, make sure that they don't take too many and remember to say thank you.
- Stay safe. Make absolutely sure that children don't stray beyond agreed boundaries and wander into streets where they are knocking on strangers' doors.
- Remember, some households may not be as welcoming as others. If there's no answer, don't repeatedly ring the doorbell - move onto another house instead.
- If you don't mind giving out treats, but would prefer not to have visitors, leave some sweets or chocolate on your front door step and let trick or treaters help themselves.
See also Everyday Etiquette: Home Life