Hallowe’en confuses me. There are lots of things about it that I just don’t understand. Mainly, what happened to the traditional English Hallowe’en of my childhood? No knocking on doors – that was for Mischief Night a few days later. Dressing up involved sheets and black sugar paper and activities revolved around apples. Simple, harmless, cheap pleasures. Lovely.
Then when my children started at the local Church of England primary school I was confused again. I discovered that some Christians had a huge issue with it as a celebration. This was entirely new to me and took me completely by surprise. No hint of Hallowe’en would be tolerated at school and instead the children were asked to dress in bright colours and attend a Light Party. No one ever really managed to explain to me what was wrong with what I had always understood to be a Celtic festival to mark the end of summer. Perhaps that was connected with the celebration moving away from apples and towards terrifying latex masks. I don’t know. It confused me.
Then adults and Hallowe’en. What’s that all about? As far as I knew it was something for children but apparently I’m wrong. As I walked my children round to parties last year I was the only one not dressed up. Party hosts entering into the spirit I can understand. But dressing up just because it’s Hallowe’en is not really for me.
Three of my four children have been invited out tonight which has delighted them as they will be able to go trick or treating, an activity that is banned here. I banned it when the big ones were small. There were no children where we live and I didn’t think my neighbours, who we didn’t know, deserved to have my children, who they didn’t know, begging for sweets at their front door. Different if you live in a neighbourhood with lots of children but we don’t so that was that.
But trick or treating they go and come home with mountains of sweets. We don’t do sweets here either. I know. I sound like a real killjoy and they do have sweets sometimes but not by the bucket load and not regularly. So instead of being a treat, they devour sweets from their stash every day until they are all gone. Not really a treat anymore.
Last year, horribly aware that I was fast becoming the Scrooge of All Hallows I did think about joining in, maybe even having a party. But as the date approached and the supermarket filled with orange and purple plastic I just couldn’t do it. I think it’s because what was an ancient tradition has been hijacked and turned into an excuse to make money. If I were to have a party I would like it to be like those of my childhood and the children would go home feeling terribly robbed.
I’m sure I’m missing out by not participating and one year I may surprise the children by arranging a giant do with spiders webs and glow in the dark skeletons. And then again…