For me, Halloween represents three basic childhood experiences:
1. Getting candy for free.
2. Having my mom yell at my drunk neighbor who wouldn't give money to UNICEF.
3. Wearing bits of fabric that I would otherwise never be caught dead in because they're much girlier/sluttier/less comfortable/weirder than what is generally deemed socially acceptable.
But really, the candy and the costume are the best parts. After all, what's more fun than celebrating a pagan holiday by disguising yourself to ensure your safety form the living imprints of departed souls who rise from their graves on this one night to terrorize their former communities?
And let me tell you how happy I am to not be dressing like Sarah Palin this year. It was highly emotionally taxing.
As I recently discovered, contrary to popular belief, the Great Pumpkin actually does not appear at midnight to hand out Snickers and Hershey's to all who believe in him.
However, trick-or-treating did start as far back as the Middle Ages, when poor people received food on All Souls Day in return for their prayers.
But the fascinating part is why we, who are clearly not medieval beggars, also claim the right to collect on America's most profitable day for candy sales. When does it stop being okay? When are you too old to march up to a stranger's door, ring the doorbell, hold out a pillowcase, and rake it in?
Paly junior Camille Ezran placed the age limit at 9th grade - and that's only if you have a costume. "If teenagers show up without a costume, it's just annoying," Ezran said.
"I think you're too old to go trick-or-treating as soon as you might possibly be taller than the person handing out candy," Paly sophomore Maddie Kau said. "This being said, I actually did go trick-or-treating last year, but felt incredibly guilty about it."
Of course, this rule of thumb may cause problems for tall kids, especially when trick-or-treating at homes with diminutive residents, but it's a start.
Paly juniors Hannah Ohlson and Irene Wang are less harsh on their fellow students.
"I don't think you're ever too old, as long as you dress up," Wang said.
Ohlson agreed. "I think if you're a teenager, it's fine to go trick-or-treating," Ohlson said, adding, "As long as you're polite and don't take, like, 25,000 pieces of candy."
So, Paly, go dress up and hit the neighborhood hot spots, but be nice.
Paly Spirit Week this year will take place Oct. 26 through Oct. 30. Halloween is the following Saturday.