Halloween-Scmalloween

This is a repost from October the 31st, 2012. With everyone suitably seasonally excited today for Halloween, I thought I would offer an alternative view, somthing of a rant, for the benefit of any new followers since I last reposted this in 2014.

What is all this fuss about Halloween? Does anybody remember when it all started here? Shops full of pumpkins, devil-suits, and tridents; parties with fancy-dress themes, gangs of kids wandering about, begging for sweets. I certainly have no memory of it in London at least, until about 1990. It is yet another unwanted American import, alongside baseball caps, (Who knows the rules? Come on, tell me.) rap music, and McDonald’s. Driven by the Marketing men, Supermarkets, and Television, desperate to fill the gap between Summer holidays, and Christmas.

Why do we always fall for this rubbish so easily? Is there no tradition that cannot be sold on, re-packaged for British taste, and successfully marketed, until nobody remembers a time before it existed? What’s next, Thanksgiving? That would fit nicely into the space before Yuletide, and would increase turkey sales even more. We could all wear stove-pipe hats, and big Puritan collars, trying to pretend it was OK to swindle the Red Indians out of their lands for a few beads and trinkets. It wouldn’t matter that there were no Red Indians here, we could just make that bit up. Or maybe we could call them ‘Native Americans’, to make us feel even less guilty.

Nothing has value anymore. There is no special time left. Hot Cross Buns are available all year, pancakes can be bought anytime, then microwaved to save the effort of making them. Tangerines are no longer a Christmas treat, any Tesco will have them in, anytime you want. We have slowly removed everything that we ever had occasion to anticipate excitedly, and to look forward to as the seasons changed. Once we had lost all that, we had to search elsewhere for something to plan for, and along came Halloween. We can now arrange parties, or the appalling ‘Trick or Treat’ parades (Ask them for a trick is my tip!), and have everything from themed burgers, to pumpkin socks. How did we ever cope before?

I would love to take you back in a Time Machine. You would relish the prospect of Buns at Easter, delight at trying to make pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, and be unable to sleep on the night before Christmas. You would never have heard of ‘Grand-Parents’ Day’, and Halloween would be something that was ‘done’ in America. Brazil nuts and tangerines would appear in December, be enjoyed briefly, and would not be seen again until that time the following year. Baseball caps would be worn by baseball players, and some other people in The Americas, but not in England. If you wanted a snack, you would be happy with fish and chips, or pie and mash.

There is nothing wrong with American cultural celebrations. They even keep some European ones, like Christmas. But the newer ones should stay on that side of the Atlantic. That way those that seek it can travel there to enjoy it, and celebrate the differences in our societies and customs. We might even tell them that we used to celebrate All Hallows’ Eve as part of the Harvest Festival, and that Halloween is a Scottish corruption of that phrase. That would make it ours then, not American at all. Like most things, including many we have since discarded, they were taken to America by settlers. America is doing a fantastic job of re-exporting those traditions, whether we need them back, or not.

Surely it is enough to celebrate the difference in the various traditions and cultures of the many countries and societies in the world, without having to assimilate everything? As the French say- ‘Vive la difference’.

57 thoughts on “Halloween-Scmalloween

  1. In the states, Holloween was much anticipated as a child, and then, as a young adult for the cray-cray awesome costume parties, and then later, when you have children? Holloween gets to be re-experienced through them while walking them about the neighborhood, chatting with old neighbors seeing all the other kiddies’ costumes and excitement, meeting new neighbors, etc.

    I used to interact a lot with Vietnamese and ethnically Chinese peoples and they celebrated ‘Chinese’ New year around the beginning of February. Very festive, great foods associated, and lots of fun parties. Never really thought about it being an intrusion on being American, just something fun and enriching to enjoy with people I liked.

    If Holloween is celebrated in the right way? it becomes another reason to let one’s hair down, kick up their heels and enjoy life.

    You might be missing out here Pete 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Chinese New Year is a cultural celebration in Chinese communities al over the world. But US-style Halloween, especialy trick-or treating, is a recent ‘import’ that has been adopted by everyone in England young enough not to remember when it wasn’t here. That’s why I think it is very different to Chinese New Year, and think of it as an intrusion. I think it is great that you make a lot of your Halloween in America, don’t get me wrong. We just didn’t need it here, Chris.
      Then again, I am old and grumpy, so bound to think that! 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Pete, we don’t have Halloween here in South Africa. African people tend to stick to their own cultural celebrations of which there are many. I rather enjoy the American decorations and love of horror books and movies, but I’m not keen on the candy craze. I do agree that commercialism and easy access to everything all the time rather spoils certain celebrations. I overcome this by baking my own Hot cross buns, Christmas cakes, and other special treats and avoiding them the rest of the year.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Perhaps because fireworks are so expensive now, and people rarely have bonfires in their gardens either. Also, marketing and advertising pushed Halloween onto us in a way that had never happened with Guy Fawke’s Night.
          Best wishes, Pete.

          Liked by 1 person

            1. Mine too. We went to a relative’s house every year for a big firework party in their garden. That carried on until I was about 12 years old. Later on when I was first married, grown up friends sometimes carried on the tradition, but once everyone was living quite some distance from each other, it stopped happening.

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    1. I had no recollection of it at all in my youth. It wasn’t something we did in London. I was 48 years old before some kids knocked on my door and yelled ‘trick or treat’. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh Pete, I soooo agree with you. I lost the Christmas feeling so long ago I can hardly remember what it was. So much eco-unfriendly crap is produced for all these “holidays”. It’s enough to make a person depressed:(

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A classic Pete rant, always a joy to read! You make great points! I use it as a chance to dive back into the horror genre of film, and we have knocked off “Rosemary’s Baby”, “The Exorcist”, “Carrie” and “The Changeling” so far!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All good choices, John. For a more modern horror, I recommend ‘It Follows’. But one of the few films that really scared me is still hard to watch. ‘Ringu’, the original Japanese version of course!
      (It was an affectionate rant, honest! 🙂 )
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Are not rants fun though? Think of all you can convey with in that context! Especially if you quick whitted. The arrangement of words! LOL Now to work on Ruby Luna’s story in Wattpad. It is after all Sunday, and I promised to play there! LOL Come out! Come out dear friends what is today’s adventure? LOL Like finessing the adventure I had for a bit anyway!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I was taught that behind all the hoopla was the Christian concept that Hallowed Eve was to honor all the dead souls in heaven and the next day, All Saints Day, was to honor the special souls that showed them the way.
    Now I see where the same Holier-Than-Thou clique who are accuse liberals of ‘taking Christ out of Christmas’ wants to change the name Halloween to Jesusween to overthrow the liberal paganism of Halloween. When they do we will sure to import the change to the UK.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Well, actually the Americans stole Halloween from the Scots – or, I guess took it with them and then adapted it. It was a huge thing in my childhood but it wasn’t ‘trick or treating’, which does seem to be not more than begging. We had to dress up and have a proper party piece – you couldn’t get away with telling a joke but had to sing, recite a poem or perform a Scottish dance. Our reward was a handful of peanuts and an apple, sometimes a toffee apple or homemade fudge. There were lots of games such as dookin for apples in which the person had to catch an apple bobbing in a big bowl of water, or, with hands behind the back, eat a treacle scone suspended on a string.
    Scotland’s bard, Robert Burns wrote a poem about it in 1785 which sets out all the various customs attached to the night. I think it’s sad it has been so spoiled.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. When I was growing up in the 1960s, Halloween in the US was primarily for children with the occasional costume party for the adults who liked that sort of thing. I’m trying to remember when it became such a mess of overspending, overhyping on the news, and tacky outdoor decorations that look like vandals invaded the neighborhood. The 1990s maybe?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Not for me either, nor my kids, but the grandchildren were introduced to it. Sigh… I can see the fun in dressing up, but the whole tackiness of the event leaves me cold – as does xmas! Time for this grumpy old bear to hibernate until the spring.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I can see both sides of the Halloween ‘event’: yes, of course, it’s driven by commerce [with American fervour], ever on the lookout for a new and, ideally, bigger marketing opportunity; but parents of younger children see it as an opportunity to involve them in something ‘fun’, with all the dressing up and rôle-playing. I’m quite happy to avoid it, but my granddaughter is being introduced to it today — heigh ho! In ‘my day’, the highlight of this time of year for me was ‘penny for the guy’, but that’s probably not politically correct now 😉 Cheers, Jon.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Halloween isn’t for old farts like us Pete, it’s for the kids and they love the dressing up and excitement of it. I’ll be hiding in the TV room, curtains closed, lights off with a bottle of plonk and a documentary series!

    Liked by 2 people

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