Thursday, 1 November 2012

Halloween

So today is the 31st of October, otherwise known as Halloween. With this day comes a surprising amount of viewpoints. I did some googling to try and understand some of them to see which seemed most appropriate to my mind.

A lot of the different opinions stem from different beliefs on where it comes from. The oldest source is a Roman festival called Parentalia which is a 9 day festival to honour family members who have passed on. There is also a Celtic day called Samhain which was the end of the harvest season where the door to the otherworld was opened and fairies and spirits could enter our world. However it may have come from the Christian all saints day where the recently departed and the saints are honoured. However as with most things Christian, there is a catholic interpretation and a protestant interpretation.

As the day has developed it has become more commercial with supermarkets stockpiling pumpkins and costume shops probably making 90% of their years income in the weeks leading up to Halloween. At least it doesn’t require sending cards! Particularly in America it has become a major holiday with special foods and activities but in England is it slightly overshadowed by guy fawks night.

As a child I was not taken trick or treating and I agree with my parents decision not to take my brother and I. In a society plagued with terrorism, kidnappings and paedophiles its unsafe to parade your children about by knocking on strangers doors. It’s also becoming unsafe to even be at home on Halloween night as if you don’t give sweets out you may be subjected to egging, flour bombs or tepee-ing. That’s extortion plain and simple: give me sweets or I will do something nasty to you! Apparently Halloween is a big night for restaurants as many people want to be out of the house for the night. This is a perversion of all of the festivals that Halloween may have come from and it’s a sad reflection on our society.

However adult’s Halloween parties are everywhere, either private parties or clubs having theme nights. Again this has nothing to do with any of the festivals and just seems to be an excuse to dress up and get drunk. Options for girls are invariably skimpy which seems to be acceptable and become normal almost. In fact, finding a modest costume is increasingly difficult, with your options either being witch in long dress or….. no wait that’s it.

Back to the original question: Should we celebrate Halloween?

Given that the day has changed almost beyond recognition from any of its roots I have decided it doesn’t really have much religious or geographical significance any more. It’s like any other themed night out. So if I’m comfortable to go to a themed night that involves dressing up, like school night, smurf night, safari night and harry potter night, then why not a Halloween night? It just seems to be a bit of fun dressing up and the occasional vegetable carving.


p.s. I wrote this yesterday, I am aware I am a day late for Halloween now