Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Hallo-when?

I'm sorry but I don't buy into all this Halloween thing. When I was a kid we never went trick-or-treating; it was just something we saw on American TV shows. MLYW thinks that she used to do it on 31st October as a child. But I think that was probably just her Dad's excuse to dress up and scare people!

Actually, her Irish heritage probably has something to do with it too. Trick or Treat started out hundreds of years ago as 'souling'. The poor of the parish would go around the day before All Souls Day, begging for food in return for which they would pray for the souls of the dead. This ancient tradition, once commonplace all over Europe seems to have been supplanted by Guy Fawkes celebrations in England. Why ask for sweets when you could get a "penny for the Guy" and buy fireworks, to be stuffed up a cat's bottom to amusing effect?

The 'souling' tradition seems to have stayed current in Ireland though, half-term holidays coincide with Halloween, so the kids get a week off school to play pranks and cause mischief. The celebration took root in America after the huge wave of Irish immigration in the 19th century, eventually becoming the now familiar and annoying tradition of extortion with menaces in the 1930s which started turning up in England again since the 1980s.

I'm preparing for the evening by putting up the blackout curtains and turning down the volume on the TV. Shhh... If we all keep quiet, they'll soon go away...

5 comments:

Delmonti said...

"Americanisms"

I dont like them either. but I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. All Emily can see is something really really fun to do. Being 7 and dressing up like your mother, knocking on peoples doors and demanding sweets is a hoot.

Having said that, I'm not opening my door to any of the robbing bastards round here

D said...

Pete hope your ploy worked - at least round by us the kids only seem to go to houses that have pumpkins etc on display

MaryB said...

OK, folks, I'm so tired of the America-hatin' on this Halloween thing. First off, I don't recall us invading England, putting guns to your heads, and demanding that you celebrate Halloween. So, don't do it, already - but don't blame it on the Americans. And second, it's a wonderful, fun-filled tradition over here (with minor -if any - "tricks," unless you consider the city of Detroit's out-of-hand Devil's Night - and well, it IS Detroit). It's a harmless fun chance to dress up in costume and gather treats from neighbors. I loved having kids come to the door - they were cutie-pies in some very original costumes. Sheesh! Get over it already, ya' buncha' grumps! :-) Now, go do something pro-social like light a big bonfire and burn a "Guy" or two!

PT said...

Hey, I'm not blaming America! After all, the Scots and Irish invented it and it's just been sent back across the sea to us.

No, I actually admire the fact that in the US it's a proper family-oriented "holiday" in which nearly everyone takes part. The kids like dressing-up, the adults like handing out candy and it's all pretty organised.

It's the way it's been done over here that I am objecting to. As it's not a long-standing tradition, those of us who don't want to take part (and waste our money on sweets for random kids) are made to feel somehow "bad" for doing so.

D said...

Pete and Meryb I agree. If the Americans were made to observe and join in Guy Fawkes night then fair enough but somehow we are loosing our British heritage by being forced into acknowledging and accepting every other celebration the world has ever celebrated while not being able to just get on with our own. Perhaps we are still too disturbed by our history to just say this is us like it or lump it - like every other nation does. I say bring back our Halloween where bob apple scary stories and witches were the main themes. We need to reclaim our own culture for fear of becoming the human chameleon nation. Ok I'm off my soap box (also American in origin)now ;-)