Wednesday 31st October
Even though we may be saddened at the impact of Hurricane Sandy and the suffering of the American people at the moment, we need not be over sentimental about some of their less wonderful exports. Where as a child we celebrated, if celebrated is the correct word, the demise of one Guido Fawkes; a possible Catholic spy, but undoubtedly by the mores of the seventeenth century a traitor, (although today he might be held in the same sort of esteem as one Julian Assange) we now find ourselves subsumed in an American export ‘Halloween’. In the same way that I regret that our own children now know nothing about the Gunpowder plot, or the Civil War, the Restoration and indeed the whole of our history which has brought us to today, The Americans seem to have forgotten their own brutal history, especially where witches and the church were concerned. Rather than celebrating witches they were hunted down, denounced and burned. Now the whole event resembles a Michael Jackson video with people in skeleton costumes and pointy hats and ghoulish make-up pretending to be ‘evil’ for one night only. The old festival of ‘All Souls’ was to ward off the devil and his handmaidens, not to worship them.
And the idea of rewarding little children with sweets, or suffer a ‘trick’ to be played on one is, the more one thinks of it, quite bizarre.
But there is no stopping the thing, it is so commercial nowadays and the kids all want to be a part of it. Now rather than once I would tell them to go away, ‘We are not American here’ I simply smile and hand out a modest sweet ration, at least to the first few door-knockers. Happy Halloween, and even happier Guy Fawkes Bonfire Night.