All Hallows’ Eve

I’m not a fan of the commercialised Halloween. When I was growing up it barely existed in the UK, although the Christian practice of remembering the dead, including saints (hallows) and martyrs, goes back centuries.  Trick and Treat and dressing up in scary costumes was an American ‘thing’. Instead we looked forward to Bonfire Night on 5 November. With accompanying ‘guy’, fireworks, bonfire toffee, Yorkshire Parkin, baked potatoes, mushy peas and toffee apples.  Weeks before were spent collecting firewood, making the guy and saving pennies to buy sparklers, crackerjacks and catherine wheels.

Remember, remember, the fifth of November.
Gun powder, treason and plot
I see no reason, why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

But the fifth of November has been overtaken by  Halloween.  A vivid reminder of just how powerfully American culture and American consumerism can be transported across the Atlantic. Local shops create window displays suitable for the season. and now my own grandchildren look forward to dressing up as ghouls and ghosties and knocking on the neighbours doors for a treat.

Me? I just close the curtains and pretend I’m not in.


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I live in the UK, but when I was younger I spent several years travelling the world followed by a period living in South Africa. I look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

49 thoughts on “All Hallows’ Eve”

  1. Yes I agree. I liked it when my children were younger but now I am a bit more removed as well. It’s a holiday for then little ones I think!

    1. It’s fine for Americans to celebrate it in the way they do, though I suspect it has become overly commercialized there too, but why have we (UK) fallen for it?

      1. When commercialism rules on holidays I try to see it through the eyes of the wee ones otherwise I am completely turned off. 🌹

  2. Your post brings back memories of my childhood too! Heard someone on the local radio yesterday saying she was seriously stressed organising a Halloween party for her children. I wondered then at how it had got so big and commercialised in the UK over the past few years or so. I didn’t mind so much when the cute little ones from our neighbourhood came knocking at my door for the treats I had prepared, but last year there were some quite big ones who I didn’t know and were not cute at all – in fact quite scary! Tonight I am off to the cinema until its all over!

    1. I think when this was a community ‘party’ like our bonfire night, it was probably much nicer. But I don’t quite know why we ‘imported’ it. And yes, you’re right, some youngsters get a kick out of terrorising the neighbourhood. Not good.

  3. Spain’s gone mad with it, too. I guess it’s the same in Germany. In the South, when I was small, we had (still have!) our own dressed-up trick-or-treating event on the day that’s known in the UK as Pancake Tuesday. We called it “to go begging” (no threats of “tricks”), it was part of carnival, and a lot of fun. I sure do hope the custom won’t die out.

    1. Well that sounds a lot more fun, hopefully the dressing up doesn’t involve looking as though you have just been in a major accident! It’s when the ‘marketroids’ step on the band-wagon that things get out of control.

      1. No.. it was cowboys and Indians and princesses for us back then, and the odd witch, but,no doubt, today’s ensemble will have more than just a handful of zombies thrown in 😉

  4. I enjoyed Halloween when I was young but we lived in a small village and one made the rounds in no time at all. It seemed each mother checked out the costume everyone else’s mother came up with. Today, it’s all $$. I’ve not answered the door for years now.

    1. Agree. It is a shame that something which was a lot of simple fun has become so money oriented. A shame people don’t make a stand, but no-one wants to be different these days. 😦

  5. I agree. When I was young Halloween was nothing special (just my sister’s birthday) and Guy Fawke’s night was the really big thing. I suppose bonfires have become dangerous and fireworks too expensive and Halloween is a much bigger commercial opportunity! Thanks USA!

  6. Great fall festive photos.

    What hasn’t been co-opted by marketers and retailers? It’s hard to keep ‘anticipation and authenic’ in anything.

    We have simple family traditions for Halloween, and the kids live where there are lots of little ones so the night is more like a n’hood streetfest.

    1. Well that sounds much simpler and nicer. My point is that this is not a traditional UK celebration, but we seem to have been sucked into it – added to that is this thing of dressing like zombies and scary ghosts! Cute kiddie ghosts are OK, but these aren’t!

  7. I well remember the Guy Fawkes nights. I met my hubby at a November 5th Guy Fawke’s dance. I used to love helping to make the ‘Bonfire’ toffee, which you pulled and pulled, and the roasted chestnuts were so delicious, even though they usually burned my mouth a little. Sparklers were my favourite fireworks. 🙂

    1. That toffee also pulled out your fillings! Yes, bonfire night was always a local community thing until the H&S police stepped in and turned into another organised money-spinner.

  8. It may be that the paranoid administrators who regulated the fun out of fireworks were responsible for the decline of bonfire night. I am also out on Hallowe’en.

    1. Bonfires used to be community based so all us kids collected wood, old junk etc. and all the neighbours made foodstuff so it was very simple and cheap (except for the fireworks, but you shared those too). Halloween is just a racket now – I did carve pumpkins for my children, but refused to let them out to ‘trick or treat’. Now they appear on your doorstep in scary costumes and huge buckets full of sweets, demanding more! Thankfully here is pretty quiet.

  9. I love November 5th and was sad that I couldn’t share that wonderful part of my childhood with my kids when we lived in California. Once we moved back here I was at last able to, certainly with my younger two, and my eldest who now lives in Lewes has even joined a Bonfire Society 😉 So, instead, I embraced the American way of doing Halloween over the many years and loved it as I have so many happy memories of my time spent with the kids going to the pumpkin farm, carving the Jack-O-Lanterns, trick or treating, the whole ball of wax. Things have changed so much here, I was amazed when I came back in 2003 that kids here dressed up for Halloween just like in America but even since then it has taken off in an even bigger way. The local kids love the pumpkin that Aspie D carves every year, we are only one of a few that do it so it is a novelty I suppose. But, yes, I am already really looking forward to Bonfire Night and can’t wait to have soup, jacket potatoes and watch the fireworks from our back garden. This will always be my tradition of choice. Do kids make a guy anymore? I remember that so well, and building the bonfire. Love your photos Jude, and I enjoyed your post. But I won’t say Happy Halloween..well, maybe to your grandchildren 😀 xx

    1. Your daughter’s pumpkins are lovely. I used to carve pumpkins too, but didn’t allow my kids out to ‘trick or treat’. And I pretended not to be in if anyone knocked! It has definitely got too commercial now. And even bonfire night has to be an organised affair – takes away that community aspect when you have to pay for tickets, and food and you know someone is in it for a profit. Do you still have your own bonfire then Sherri?

      1. Ahh…thanks Jude, I do like her creations! I always took my kids trick or treating and in later years, would only let them go with big brother (he is 10 years older than daughter with Nicky in the middle). We never go to community bonfires, never have. Can’t stand them. When we moved back here, Nicky had a friend whose family live on a farm and they had a huge bonfire every year to which we were invited. It was wonderful to experience that with my kids. I grew up with bonfires in our garden as we lived in the country as you know but no, we don’t do bonfires now sadly, living in town. Instead, we let off fireworks in the back garden and ooh and aah. In CA it is illegal to have fireworks in the home due to fire risk so every July 4th we got to have our fireworks on the beach. And that got wild with some crazy people doing crazy things like shooting rockets out of their trousers, that kind of thing….you get the gist. Thankfully we were always able to find a safe place away from those crowds. But that’s another story….and so they go! Have a lovely, peaceful weekend Jude, now that Halloween is over with…for another year 😉 xx

  10. Halloween, a ghastly American tradition that I can do without, I don’t bother answering the door they get the message after a few tries. As a kid we never celebrated Halloween but Bonfire Night was something we all enjoyed looking forward to, going round the houses asking if they had anything we could build our bonfire with, in fact many people hoarded their junk for bonfire night and the anticipation of waiting for your jacket potato that would be burnt to a cinder on the outside but lovely and soft on the inside. Happy Halloween Jude.

  11. Yes, we do that too, aren’t we spoil sports?! We keep all lights off from the front of the house and pretend we’re not in. It’s not a British tradition, it’s an American one – let them have one of their own, we have so many here we don’t really need imports.

  12. Me too….yet this year since it falls on a Friday our whole neighborhood is out! It is so much fun! The adults have bonfires and wine and the kids are having a wonderful time. It really feels great to have an opportunity to reconnect with our community! 🙂

    1. Well that sounds much nicer and more like our bonfire night used to be. It’s the commercialism that gets to me, rubbish sold for high prices and the whole horror theme. And older kids who are complete strangers, knocking at your door demanding sweets or else they’ll flour bomb your car or throw eggs at your windows – now that is NOT fun.

      1. Wow, that is not nice at all! We had some older teens but they were all polite and said thank you and took only one piece of candy. I too hate the commercialism of it and especially of all the holidays like XMAS and Easter. It sometimes seems like capitalism has taken the real true meaning out of the seasons! And with the amount of money we spend on sugary junk — $2 billion I heard – just think what it could do to help hunger, poverty, vaccines etc!!! Oh well.

        1. My thoughts exactly when I see all those firework displays on New Year’s Eve. How much more could be done with the money spent on gratuitous entertainment. Yet children still have to drink dirty water…

  13. I too pretend I’m not at home, for similar reasons. Much more to my taste was All Saints in Warsaw, when everyone crowds to cemeteries to visit family who have moved on. A great regret is catching a virulent cold, so that I couldn’t go and see all the lanterns at night.

    1. No need Dawn! It is just a shame that traditions get buried under a sea of commercialism. And I would have got better windows, but the weather turned and then there were too many tourists around to get a clear shot.

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