Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Halloween and the descent into chaos

Be gone all ye spirits wishing us harm
Halloween. It's changed a bit since I was a bairn.

We used to hollow out neaps and go out guising, but we were only rewarded with 'treats' if the joke or song we performed at each doorstep was deemed worthy.

Monkey nuts or a satsuma were the standard fair, but one neighbour used to make toffee apples every year. Needless to say, her house was very popular.

As I remember it, the adults used to get quite involved. Or at least the ones in my neighbourhood did. They laughed and joked with us guisers, commented on our homemade costumes (witch, frankenstein, St Trinian zombie, normal zombie, or a headless ghost usually) and made us fish for apples in luminous green jelly or plunge our arms into buckets of sawdust to find our treats. There were no 'sexy witches'. No supermarket costumes (guilty as charged here). No Haribo.

It was fun. Harmless fun. The story behind the tradition was all to do with welcoming spirits back from the dead, offering them food to sustain them on the trip to the next world. The guisers (and the turnip lanterns) were there to scare away any unfriendly spirits. I think, by tricking them into thinking our house already had enough visiting spirits thankyouverymuch. I'm pretty sure it was closely linked with the harvest festival as well.

Not a homemade costume in sight (shame on me)
But tonight, didn't quite pan out how I remembered Halloween to be. Adults at the houses we visited were disinterested, they didn't want to hear my 6 year old tell his hilarious joke straight from the pages of The Beano (it wasn't that bad, honest). So the evening quickly descended into a quest to obtain as much 'candy' as possible, with the minimum of effort. Hmmm....not good.

I loved the Halloween of my childhood and I don't want it to just be about 'candy' for my two. Granted, we didn't have time to make our traditional Halloween gingerbread biscuits this year, or the jelly worms I planned, or our famous vampire cupcakes. So I have to take some responsibility here.

I guess packing them off to the Science Museum for the day before heading out trick or treating wasn't the best way to ensure a tantrum-free bedtime either. Or giving them free reign on their 'loot' when we got home from trick or treating.

Ho hum.

Next year, we'll do Halloween the traditional Scottish way. There will be bobbing for apples, spot prizes for homemade costumes, lots of homemade goodies that celebrate the season and goo. Luminous green slimy disgusting goo for the little cherubs to plunge their hands into if they want more than a satsuma (cue evil cackle). I love Haribo as much as the next person, believe me. But nothing says Halloween quite like green goo, toffee apples and monkey nuts.

We'll keep the pumpkins though. Much easier to hollow out than a bloody turnip, that's for sure.

1 comment:

  1. Can't agree more. I thought Halloween was a nightmare this year. Very Ho Hum from me.

    Love the sound of the Scottish Halloween though. x


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