Keeping Halloween spirits alive as an adult

Jack o' lantern carved as part of a Halloween party activity, to celebrate the influence of the popular holiday. (Brooklyn Wilkins/AQ)

My eight siblings and I grew up on Maywood Street in a Montreal suburb. We lived next to a park and had lots of neighbourhood friends. All year round we would talk about the white house with the blue two-door garage.

The white house with the two-door garage came alive around October 1. Large blue totes found a home on the front lawn. Every afternoon on my bus ride home from school I could see men unpacking more items: an electric chair, skeletons and faux cobwebs galore.

By Oct. 25, it was completely transformed into a haunted house. The front yard became a labyrinth of jump-scares and disturbing blood-spattered objects.

I remember debating with my parents to let me go through the haunted house. If you made it to the end, you were promised a Ziploc full of candy, including two full-sized chocolate bars. My parents usually conceded, but I’d always need to go with one of my siblings.

As a child, my siblings and I would scheme for weeks about how to accumulate as much candy as possible. My dad would take us out three times: once with all my siblings, once without the two littlest ones and then a final time with just the three oldest. Being the second oldest, I got to go out all three times and I always looked forward to that third round when we trick-or-treated until homes shut off their lights.

As an adult, I no longer get excited about haunted houses or costumes. What remains is the opportunity to spend time with friends and family. The time I used to spend with neighbourhood friends, my siblings and my dad has translated into hosting and attending Halloween parties with people I love.

I sat down with fellow St. Thomas University fourth-year Astrid Hinojosa who loves the spooky season but similarly uses this time to connect with her friends.

Hinojosa grew up in Mexico. She told me that Halloween only became a big part of her life later on.

“Unfortunately, Mexico’s not very safe, you can’t [go trick or treating] but malls and hotels would host it,” said Hinojosa.

She moved to British Columbia when she was 10. She went to the local seasonal Halloween store and found the spookiest costume she could. That was when she discovered her love for Halloween.

“I remember having that same experience that happens in Mean Girls where she walks in decked out in [a spooky Halloween costume]. That’s not what everybody else is doing … there were so many Red Riding Hoods,” said Hinojosa.

She said that despite not doing what everyone else was doing she felt amazing. She has carried that love for going big on Halloween into her adult life.

“I feel like society … tells you [as an adult], you have to get serious and you have to follow a path and hit these milestones and I think a party where you get to dress up and be kind of silly is a good way to break that up and not take yourself too seriously,” said Hinojosa.

Hinojosa explained that even for those who are not die-hard Halloween fans like herself, taking a moment as an adult to let go of some pressure to be a “serious adult” is a good thing.

This year she is hosting a Twilight themed party at her apartment. She began planning the party in mid-September. Everyone had to come dressed according to the theme and there was a contest for the best costume and prizes. She had themed cupcakes and decorations. She also served drinks in fake blood bags.

“I feel like Twilight was very monumental and is coming back. I feel it can be easy to do or you can go full out,” said Hinojosa.