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Halloween: An Adult Holiday Now?


Halloween has deep Celtic roots and a tradition dating back centuries to the 1500s. “All Hallows Even (Evening)” was a time to pray for those whose souls had not yet reached heaven. In the Christian tradition, Halloween is followed by All Soul’s Day on November 1, which is a time of worship and prayer for the same purpose.

In America, the growth of suburbia increased the popularity of trick-or-treating, and sidewalks and neighborhoods allowed children to go door-to-door to collect candy. But in the late 1970s, a shift took place: the horror film industry, together with consumerism took hold to create an adult party culture around Halloween.

Since the 1970s, adult partying and spending on the fall holiday have only grown: in 2018, over 70% of adults told the National Retail Federation that they planned to celebrate Halloween. Adults now spend more on costumes for themselves than for their children. In fact, Halloween is the #2 holiday for consumer spending on decorations, falling behind only Christmas. Halloween is also the #2 holiday in wine and liquor purchases, falling behind only New Year’s. It seems that alcohol, not candy, is the big draw for the new Halloween crowd.

So how did Halloween, historically a religious celebration and then a kids’ event, become the biggest young adult party night of the year? As can be expected, people have different theories on this phenomenon. Some put it squarely in the millennial category of delayed transitions and emerging adulthood, opining that young adults ages 18-34 (the people most likely to be bar hopping rather than passing out candy to trick-or-treaters), are trying on identities and still enacting childhood rituals. Others see the adult co-opting of the holiday as the result of rampant consumerism and marketing, where advertising by bars, costume designers and manufacturers, party planners, and especially alcoholic beverage companies has created the adult party culture and peer pressure to participate in it.


As could be predicted, the Halloween party culture leads to some new dangers on Halloween night. There are 43% more pedestrian deaths on Halloween than on other random autumn evenings, and half of those deaths involve alcohol; the normal percentage is one-third. In general, October as a month ranks second in total number of motor vehicle deaths, behind only July—due to the July 4th holiday.

In recent years, a party atmosphere has developed around taking kids trick-or-treating, with parents hosting parties while their children circulate the neighborhood. While being festive and enjoying Halloween is great, these parties usually involve alcohol, and often the parents who escort the groups of children are drinking. Drinking while walking can be dangerous, since crossing at crosswalks, obeying traffic signals, keeping track of all the children so they do not dart out into the street, etc, is harder to do while drinking.

Texting while walking is also dangerous. An adult who looks down at his/her phone can fail to see a car backing out of a driveway ahead, or notice the child that has run ahead into the intersection. Even in quiet neighborhoods, the darkness, lower visibility due to masks/costumes, and the overall excitement of the night can lead to kids running into the street or cars not seeing children where they usually are not located.


In an effort to make Halloween safer, some communities have begun to relocate Halloween. Outdoor malls, in cooperation with small businesses, have started to offer trick-or-treating around their complexes. A defined environment with mall security present, along with well-lit sidewalks and parking lots, provide children and parents a friendly and safe alternative.

Trunk-or-Treating is an emerging trend. Parents decorate their trunks, circle up their cars in a parking lot, and then open the trunks that are full of candy and other kinds of treats. The kids make the rounds of the trunks while the parents are there to supervise. Admittedly unorthodox, Trunk-or-Treating is gaining in popularity.


However you choose to celebrate Halloween, and whatever age you are, keep the following safety tips in mind:

  1. Wear reflective clothing, and incorporate it in your child’s costume.
  2. Do not let a mask or the costume impair visibility—of your or your child’s vision.
  3. Go out with your child even if they are older.
  4. Walk on the sidewalk and cross at the crosswalk or intersection; obey traffic signals.
  5. Avoid distractions—including your cell phone.
  6. Do not drink and walk; do not drink and drive.


If you or someone you know is injured in an accident, contact Dave Thomas at The Thomas Law Firm for a free consultation regarding your legal rights.

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Thomas Law Firm
Located at 945 East Paces Ferry Road, Resurgens Plaza, GA 30326.

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