Trick or Treaters Can Be Expected

            It seems like most people have a good idea as to who is likely to show up at their door on any given day.  Family, friends, neighbors, kids’ friends, the occasional girl scout selling cookies, or maybe an elementary school kid promoting a school fundraiser.  Occasional visitors might include persons sharing religious messages, repairmen, contractors, and even the occasional door to door salesman selling vacuum cleaners or Fuller Brush products.  For most people, that’s about it.

But on one night each year, most people in North America can expect to see a handful of little strangers appear on their door step with nothing to sell, and only asking for something small such as a treat.  That night would, of course, be Halloween.

According to Wikipedia, Halloween is a variant of “All-Hallows-Even” and is the name give to the evening before “All Hallows Day”, or “Hallowmas,” which is also known as “All Saints Day.”  This Day is a religious Holiday that has been around for a long time.  Apparently Shakespeare even refers to the day by the name of “Hallowmas” in his comedy “The Two Gentlemen of Verona.”

According to Wikipedia, the development of “Trick-or-Treating” is a relatively recent development in the observance of Halloween.  Trick-or-Treating is now apparently done  in many different countries, and generally consists of children visiting homes (often of strangers), often accompanied by an adult, where the children say “Trick-or-Treat” after knocking on the front door.  The practice apparently originated as a request by the children for a small treat in exchange for the children not performing some prank or trick on property or the homeowner.  In common practice, there doesn’t seem to be any significant consideration of any “prank” or “trick” in connection with Trick-or-Treating, and most people who participate seem to have a generally positive experience with the practice.  Those who aren’t interested in participating usually seem to keep their lights off or go out for the evening.

From a legal perspective, Halloween creates an interesting situation with respect to homeowners and occupants of property.  Many homeowners don’t specifically invite children to their home on Halloween.  But most people who have lived in this country for any length of time are familiar with the practice of Trick-or-Treating, and many people can reasonably expect children to arrive at their door on Halloween unannounced and uninvited.  It’s usually dark when most of these children show up.  All of these factors can combine to create an unusual set of circumstances – expected visitors who may be excited and may not be paying close attention to their surroundings coming up to properties after dark.  It’s always a good idea for homeowners and property occupants to keep their properties in reasonably clean, orderly, and safe condition for persons who may be coming on to the property.  But it may be especially so when young visitors can be expected after dark – such as on Halloween.  Nobody wants to have a Trick-or-Treat excursion end in an accident or tragedy.  Halloween is a great time for homeowners to take a look around their front yard to make sure that the path to their door is clear, unobstructed, and free of clutter or debris that could present any kind of a risk, danger, or hazard.

Traveling up to a front door doesn’t pose the only potential risk to young children.   Their teeth can also experience the effects of lots of candy.  At least one dentist has been known to sponsor a candy trade-in  where incentives, prizes or rewards are offered to young trick-or-treaters in exchange for the candy they have received on Halloween.  Homeowners or others who are concerned about the effects of lots of candy sometimes offer alternative treats, such as small gifts or favors, or even coins.  That’s one way to recycle of all of that excess change that’s been building up in a jar over the past few years.

Copyright 2017 ROBERT B. JACOBS