Lancaster, PA

The Tradition of Getting "Booed" Before Halloween in Lancaster, PA

Sara Melissa Frost
Photo by Sara Melissa Frost

Have you ever been "booed" before? I was introduced to this phenomenon after moving into a neighborhood in Lancaster, PA. "Booing" someone simply is a Halloween tradition of surprising neighbors with treats throughout October leading up to the holiday.

Don't tell your neighbor

First, you fill a Halloween-themed bucket or basket with candy and treats of your choice. Then, once it's dark out, you secretly drop it off at one of your neighbors' porch with a note explaining the surprise and instructions on how to "boo" two additional neighbors. Make sure they don't see you when you drop off the treats!

When someone gets "booed", they have two days to "boo" two neighbors, family, or friends. After being "booed", you're supposed to hang a paper ghost in your window to let the world know that you have already been "booed". Hopefully whoever you surprised with a fun bucket of goodies will continue the chain and eventually it will spread throughout the whole neighborhood.

This tradition runs strong in my area, and we've been "booed" each year, sometimes even more than once. It is a fun way of showing kindness and spreading joy to your neighbors. Throughout the month, signs and paper ghosts multiply across the neighborhood as Halloween approaches.

It's a lot of candy, but the kids love the surprise element of it all.

And if you're planning on "booing" someone that doesn't have kids, there's also the adult version, "boozing". Drop off some wine and cheese or a six-pack, and you'll make their day.

American tradition

This friendly Halloween tradition can be traced back to the early 1980s. Booing originated in the United States, and today, it occurs in neighborhoods all over the country. In many suburban neighborhoods, it’s a long-standing tradition that's been around for years and years. When my family and I were "booed" for the first time, I asked around to try to figure out how long this tradition has existed in Lancaster, PA, and most people I talked to said it's been around for as long as they could remember.

If you decide to "boo" someone, an easy way to do so is to follow the instructions from the expert Kendra Montane. She's even written a book about this adorable Halloween tradition. To successfully surprise your neighbor or friend, do the following:

• Make two copies of the "You've Been Booed"-sign. It is easily found by doing a Google search.

• Stuff two bags full of goodies, and attach the "You've Been Booed" page to the front of the treat bag.

• At night, creep up to a friend or neighbor's doorstep and leave a treat bag. Ring the doorbell, run, and hide.

• Watch and listen to the joy you bring to neighbors and friends as they discover your treats on their porch.

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Journalist and writer. I cover local stories + food, mostly from PA.

Lititz, PA

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