Here's the trick to getting your treat

By Amelia Wade

These trick-or-treaters in Parnell certainly deliver on the first rule in Halloween etiquette - good costumes. Picture / Sarah Ivey
These trick-or-treaters in Parnell certainly deliver on the first rule in Halloween etiquette - good costumes. Picture / Sarah Ivey

New Zealand trick-or-treaters lack manners and need to learn the proper etiquette to the Halloween tradition, says an expat American.

Sherry Wagner said October 31 was the one night of the year where she could "become anyone I wished" while growing up in the United States.

"It was all of the creative energy that people put into the night that inspired me ... and it was also really fun to see kids and families actually walking around."

The Lynfield College teacher said wandering American suburbs on Halloween night was comparable to walking up Franklin Rd, Ponsonby, at Christmas to admire all the lights.

But when she moved here eight years ago, she was a bit baffled by the "Kiwi misunderstanding" of one of America's favourite traditions.

"The combination of dress-ups, lollies and parties appears to be something you'd enjoy. I didn't really get it. But it's the sending of children door-to-door, begging for candy that seems to get up people's craw.

Door-to-door salespeople and telemarketers seem to get a better reception than a sweet little fairy toting a plastic pumpkin."

Ms Wagner offered advice for those planning to head out tonight.

"The whole interaction should be positive, brief and well mannered.

"Firstly, they need to understand that if they can't be bothered to dress up in a decent costume, they have no business trick or treating.

"And even the most enthusiastic holiday supporter should tell them, 'no costume, no candy'.

"Secondly, they need to mind their manners.

"After they are greeted at the door, they must say 'trick or treat' - it's the "please" part of the transaction. I realise that it is an imperative, or command, but it should not be used in a commanding manner."

Instead, Ms Wagner said the phrase should be said in a sweet way, as if you were saying, "please".

A "thank you" is also a must - those who give away lollies should be praised for their generosity.

Six rules for Halloween

1. Halloween happens only on October 31. Demanding offerings on other days is like asking for presents on December 13.

2. Halloween is for small children. Older children sometimes engage in rowdier pursuits which isn't the point of the tradition.

3. Costumes are mandatory.

4. Houses signal they are participating with a jack-o-lantern on the porch or in the window.

5. "Trick or treat" translates as "I'd like some sweets, please" - it's not a free for all.

6. When you say "trick or treat", nice people give you a bitesize piece of chocolate they have ready and compliment you on your costume. No cash changes hands.

Based on a list by the Guardian.

- NZ Herald

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