When I was a child my brother and I used to have great fun making Halloween costumes out of bed sheets, cardboard and crepe paper.
We loved scaring each other with spooky stories or bobbing for apples; cheap, simple pleasures which never hurt anyone apart from giving us the odd nightmare or tummy ache.
Occasionally, we’d join friends on ‘trick or treat’ tours where we always got sweets and never had to play pranks.
How times have changed in half a century!
Tricksters who throw eggs at houses have been giving Halloween a bad name for some years now. But how many realise that if they cause damage to property they are in danger of ending up in hot water and likely to face criminal proceedings if they are over the age of ten.
Parents or guardians are not legally responsible for covering the cost of damage to property caused by their child on Halloween – regardless of their age, or whether the damage was caused deliberately, or not.
A decade ago, parties of little witches and ghosts, accompanied by their parents, used to roam the streets in the town where I live on Halloween, knocking on doors. I’d have a ready supply of sweets to give them. For the past few years we’ve had no callers.
I wonder whether parents nowadays are anxious about encouraging their children to call at strangers’ homes or are reacting to the mass of stories about elderly or vulnerable people being scared by unexpected knocks at the door when darkness falls.
Could it be that parents no longer have the time to dress their children in Halloween costumes?
Or perhaps they are too busy getting ready for their own house party? Yes, the adult Halloween market is big business these days, more popular than Valentine’s Day. It is the third most commercially-successful day after Christmas and Easter.
Grown-ups in the UK last year spent an estimated £277m on bewitching costumes, horror movies and creepy attractions.
This Halloween I’ll be watching a scary film at home in the dark, gorging on sweets which I bought for the children who never called at my door.