On Facebook yesterday, I noticed a story posted by our local NPR affiliate about a twist on the tradition of trick or treating.
Well, in St. Louis, at least (and a cousin told me they did this in Kansas City, too), the tradition has it that you must have a joke ready when you knock on a door to get candy. My father introduced me to this tradition when I was very young, going out trick or treating in my neighborhood, plus Grandma’s short street. We had to go there in addition to our own neighborhood because she always liked to see us dressed up in our costumes, whatever they were. Besides, she always had a huge bag of candy for us – who wouldn’t want to pass that up?
For weeks ahead of Halloween, when we were debating what I would wore that year, the conversation would inevitably turn to what joke I would offer in exchange for my candy. Living in St. Louis, there was never a question whether or not I would have a joke – just a matter of which one I would use that year. Dad would always put in his two cents and suggests corny jokes as really good options.
When we moved to Texas and I prepared my costume and jokes as normal, I had no idea that the tradition did not extend south of the Mason-Dixon line. I had my joke ready for the first house, but when I knocked on the door, the family inside simply opened up, dumped candy into my pillow case, smiled and sent me on my way.
The first few times this happened, we were awfully confused. Did these people just not understand what Halloween was all about? They were supposed to ask for a joke if the kids didn’t automatically launch into it once the door was cracked open a bit.
After a few experiences followed the first we realized this totally wasn’t the tradition in Texas. It was actually kind of sad the next year to organize a costume without worrying about a joke. Dad still tried to get us prepared with a bad joke, just in case, but we were never asked for one. It sort of felt like the end of an era. Sad in a way.
So what about you – do you have a joke telling tradition for Halloween? Or is it just a midwestern thing?