I would like to draw your attention to a new campaign. A colleague of John’s has started Sausage Monday – she is happy to answer questions on such thorny issues as “Does Toad-in-the-Hole constitute a suitable Monday dish?” “What about Fishfinger Friday?” So do go along and give her a visit.
And now a little cogitation. Halloween. I know it’s not just me, because everyone I’ve asked (colleagues and parents of other children in Adam’s class) is of a similar mind to me. We don’t like it – not that we have any particular religious objection, and toffee apples, pumpkins and bobbing for apples are all great. As is dressing up as a bat or a ghost or whatever takes your fancy. No, what we can’t abide is trick-or-treating. I’ve heard a variety of objections – it’s not safe for the children, it’s intimidating for people living on their own, it’s not our tradition (and although I do agree with that one, I’m not particularly enthralled by our own autumnal tradition of burning effigies… ) I think my main objection is to extortion. Groups of small children going round with a responsible adult to a prearranged group of participating friends is one thing – groups of teenage boys knocking on the doors of all and sundry and squirting silly string (as happened to one of my colleagues) or throwing stones or eggs (as per news reports) when they’re not answered is entirely another. On my way to work yesterday I saw someone’s window box had been destroyed – there were geraniums strewn all over the road. Apparently halloween is now the busiest night of the year for the police.
I guess that part of the problem is that it isn’t our tradition – we’re really only just beginning to take it on board in a big way (although it’s now the 3rd biggest retailing opportunity in the UK – behind Christmas and Easter, but ahead of Valentine’s Day – lots of relatively expensive and tacky costumes for sale, as well as sweets to dish out at the door) – and because it’s not our tradition, we don’t really know how to “do” it properly.
But yes, our Bonfire Night has its ugly side – when John and I were newly married we had American neighbours over as postgraduates who were horrified to hear that burning an effigy of Guy Fawkes is an annual event. It was something of a shock to realise that our “harmless fun” looked so appalling to outsiders.
Enough of controversy – back to knitting – you didn’t really think I’d be able to remain monogamous to miles of grey ribbing did you?
Adam needs a new hat, and I’ve been hankering after knitting this since I first saw it:
I’m just hoping that it will fit – if not, I’ll have a nice new hat
Today I’m planning that we will mostly veg in front of the television. Ruth is complaining of being tired. I’m hormonal, and I had a flu jab this morning. So I’m guessing/hoping that the hat won’t take too much longer.
eleven comments:I agree with your arguments. My main reply is that while I have no major problems with our pagan traditions, I am not American and will therefore not partake in ‘trick-or-treating’ as it is done now, much to my children’s disgust. I do try to explain this to them, but at the moment it is a little complicated for them to really grasp. I will perservere!
Love the hat.
Must be a vegging day!
Louise - 02 November '06 - 12:51I can’t stand Halloween at all. Too much spookiness and too many excuses for misbehaving. I was at my bible study group on tuesday and we had a couple of groups of trick or treaters, all teenaged and in varying degrees of dressed-up-ness. We gave them pineapple since that was what we had and I think they were a little nonplussed both by having the door answered by what was obviously a big bunch of Christians (bibles and a guitar tend to give it away!) and by being given fruit. Actually, they were pretty polite and well-behaved, but still, it’s not like they do anything for their sweeties, they just stand there and expect you to give them something.
Pigwotknits () (link) - 02 November '06 - 18:29I’m always mildly surprised that we’re all still celebrating a sectarian holiday on November 5th (burning failed religious terrorists in effigy is kind of an interesting one).
As someone living alone I really dislike Halloween because of the threat element; like Valentine’s Day, they seem to get the whole community/family thing sorted out better in the US and it’s still a celebration…
Did find a nice All Saints’/All Souls’ day comment from Karl Rahmer, SJ though: “Be still, O heart, and let all whom you have loved rise from the grave of your breast”.
Liz () (link) - 02 November '06 - 20:11that is a beautiful morning sky…
as for the Halloween, i am glad that we didnt copy the Americans (yet!) it is only a rich people’s entertainment for now… but i feel you about your reasons.. i always wonder (especially in u.s) how people can trust the candies they got from a total stranger to give to their children ? it is really spooky..
nihal () (link) - 02 November '06 - 21:39I was going to sign this with “Mary, the Canadian,” but I think I’d better say that bit here at the start!
Oh, it’s complicated… We stick to our neighbourhood—no driving the minivan to a wealthier neighbourhood, where they give away bigger chocolate bars! And we buy enough for about 100 kids and then when we run out, we blow out the pumpkin candle and turn off the lights and that’s that. And it’s fun to sit out and see all your neighbours and stuff…
It’s insidious, and you’ll be swamped with marketing for it until you submit, but do resist, simply because it’s not your tradition and you shouldn’t let yourselves be bullied by candymakers to celebrate this occasion. No one remembers the source of it—it’s just a day when you dress up (and despite its roots, princesses and Harry Potter and Superman are perhaps more common than ghosts and witches) and get candy. Usually cheap, awful candy, because people buy in bulk! Quantity, not quality!
Oh, I could go on and on…. I noticed last year when I saw the Nov 5 goings-on in Cambridge that there was a big bonfire, but not much was said about a Guy. Is there a move to just go with the pyrotechnics and forget the reason?
Mary de B () (link) - 02 November '06 - 22:59Oh, and I love the hat!
Mary de B () (link) - 02 November '06 - 23:01The hat looks great! Well, the knitting so far does.
I used to love Halloween but the thrill is gone. The kids are bussed into neighborhoods, they’re up waaaaay too late, it’s really not safe what with all the crazies ruining it in years past.
Dang! I missed your contest deadline. I shouldn’t have held out for one pic I couldn’t get one day.
Carrie K () (link) - 03 November '06 - 01:58You’ve summed up my thoughts on Halloween exactly! I hate the extortion and intimidation (and it is frightening when you live on your own!).
I’m also trying to remember the last time I saw a Guy on a bonfire and it must be several years ago now…
Daisy () (link) - 03 November '06 - 12:35Lovely hat!
I’m with you on hallowe’en. We don’t it at all in our house. I didn’t answer the door to any trick-or-treaters. I try not to be over-paranoid about the ‘dangers of strangers’, but it goes against the grain for me to warn children not to talk to or take sweets from strangers for 364 days of the year, and then to send them knocking on doors asking for sweets on the 365th!
Nope- I’m afraid that, for me, Hallowe’en falls into the same box as father’s day and, heaven forbid, the newly arrived grandparents’ day: ignored!!
Big Ruth () (link) - 03 November '06 - 14:48I adore the hat Anne…...i’m into skull and crossbones in a big way just lately!! Also hun, the flu jab doesn’t contain a live virus so it’s prolly hormones that’s making you tired.
Chat soon, Denise xxxxx
Denise () - 03 November '06 - 17:46I’m in Virginia, so it is our tradition. However, there are a couple of things done here that make it much more reasonable than what you describe. First, the city or county sets hours on halloween night – usually something like six to eight in the evening. Kids over twelve are not supposed to trick or treat unless they are collecting for UNICEF. Kids only go to houses where the front porch lights are on, no light means no kids. Lastly, I can’t remember the last time I saw anything major in the way of “tricks”. The kids will silly string each other, but not the adults. Occasionally a tree will be draped in toilet paper, but the kids are good about getting permission first and cleaning it up the next day. Perhaps it’s small town behavior – the kids know that we know who is doing what and they have to live here, but we’re blessed with good kids in this neighborhood.
Kit () - 03 November '06 - 22:02