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Halloween - Helen's journal and online home
In which an old dog attempts to learn new tricks.
heleninwales
heleninwales
Halloween
I'm growing to like Halloween. When I was a child, it was just an occasion to draw pictures of witches riding on broomsticks with their black cat. The pictures would then be stuck on the classroom wall as a run up to the real excitement of Bonfire Night. But the wildness of the Bonfire Night celebrations of my youth seem less acceptable these days, and besides all the bomb sites and bits of waste land have been cleared, reclaimed and built over, so there's little opportunity for feral bonfires and the fires and fireworks have been tamed and herded into organised events.

So, as I said, I'm warming to Halloween. I used to condemn it as a nasty American import, but of course it was originally a British thing that got exported to the US, though we had turnip jack o' lanterns instead of the much easier to carve pumpkins. So having once celebrated it, it's not that surprising that we're now taking it back, and adapting it to fit our own culture better. And you have to admit, there's so much more that you can do with it. Bonfire Night just meant kids with some sort of homemade effigy in an old pram begging for money in the street to buy fireworks, rival gangs pre-emptively firing each other's bonfires so theirs could be the biggest on the night and the fire brigade were kept busy in the run up to November the 5th and on the night itself. Injuries were commonplace and there was usually a death or two. Halloween, on the other hand, means parties and dressing up which little kids can do safely. I was terrified of fireworks when I was small and would only watch even tame ones like sparklers and golden rain through the window. We're not as big on Trick or Treating over here, but what's not to like about fancy dress parties and dances which can be adjusted to suit all ages?

It has also occurred to me that Bonfire Night as I knew it might not have been so popular in the past. We always tend to think that things should always remain how they were when we were young and that they have always been that way, but that might not be the case. If I remember, I will ask my two friends who are aged 98 and 93 what they did to celebrate either Halloween or November the 5th when they were young.
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Comments
kaishin108 From: kaishin108 Date: October 31st, 2015 03:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
I never knew about Bonfire night being linked to Halloween. It seems like more and more Brits are warming up to Halloween these days. And here I am kind of sick of it ;-)
steepholm From: steepholm Date: October 31st, 2015 04:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't think it's linked, it's just that they're only a week or so apart.
kaishin108 From: kaishin108 Date: November 1st, 2015 02:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I see - thank you!
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: November 1st, 2015 02:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, it's a bit more complicated than that. It's not a coincidence that Halloween and Bonfire Night are close together. Many people (me included) believe that both of these festivals/celebrations/whatever you want to call them are echoes of the Pre-Christian rituals that happened around the time of year that (in the modern calendar) is now the very end of October and the beginning of November. Halloween is Nos Calan Gaeaf in Welsh (night of the winter calends) and it was the old start of winter.

Back then, in pre-Roman Britain, they were using a lunar or astronomical calendar and of course adjustments to the calendar over the centuries mean that the exact day has now been muddled and so celebrations may have shifted a bit.
kaishin108 From: kaishin108 Date: November 1st, 2015 10:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh I see, yes it is a bit complicated. I am going to read your link, thank you!
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: November 1st, 2015 02:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, it's a bit more complicated than that. It's not a coincidence that Halloween and Bonfire Night are close together. Many people (me included) believe that both of these festivals/celebrations/whatever you want to call them are echoes of the Pre-Christian rituals that happened around the time of year that (in the modern calendar) is now the very end of October and the beginning of November. Halloween is Nos Calan Gaeaf in Welsh (night of the winter calends)and it was the old start of winter.

Back then, pre-Roman Britain, they were using a lunar or astronomical calendar and of course adjustments to the calendar over the centuries mean that the exact day has now been muddled and so celebrations may have shifted a bit.
feodora From: feodora Date: October 31st, 2015 04:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Althoug when I know Halloween comes from All Hallow's Eve and has its tradition even back to the Celts and Samhain, but as a german protestant for me the 31rst of October is mainly the day before All Saints Day. The day from which it says that Martin Luther proclaimed his 95 articles agains the katholic chuch.
I am not a very religious, I hope more than I believe.

I think Halloween in its pure tradition is finde but not what it became in these days. Its the same with Karneval in Germany. It started as feast befor lenten season and look what it now!
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: November 1st, 2015 02:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think Halloween in America has become horribly commercial. I don't know whether it will go the same way here. I hope not!
nutmeg3 From: nutmeg3 Date: November 1st, 2015 02:52 am (UTC) (Link)
I love Halloween, so I want the whole world to celebrate it. :-)
karinfromnosund From: karinfromnosund Date: November 1st, 2015 04:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Witches on broomsticks are very much an Easter thing in Sweden. Halloween is mostly ghosts, and bonfires belong on the Last of April.

Different traditions are a good thing. So is tradition drift.

(Sorry if I appear incoherent. It's five o'clock on Sunday morning, and the cats have tricked me out of my bed)
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: November 1st, 2015 02:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
In Celtic Britain there also used to be May day eve bonfires, but for some reason those died out though we kept the early November fire festival, disguised as a celebration of Guy Fawkes's failed attempt to blow up Parliament. And we were celebrating the failure. Britain was very anti-Catholic for centuries.

And yes, Halloween was ghosts here too.
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