Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween, but Don't Knock Here


The younger kids in our school went all-out with their autumn decor this year, giving us a wall of psychedelic pumpkins. I think they look better than the standard orange-and-black Halloween color scheme, don't you?

But there's plenty of that around, too:


There seem to be two schools of thought about Halloween in Britain. One is embodied by the traditionalists who eschew Halloween as an American import and argue that Britain should save its fall celebratory energy for Bonfire Night (which is coming up on Nov. 5). Rob Rinder, in the Evening Standard, moaned about Halloween in one of his recent columns and said trick-or-treaters in his neighborhood badger him not for candy but money. (Definitely not an American Halloween tradition!)


Others take it in stride. The family with this door is British -- I know because I heard them talking as they were leaving the house one day -- and they have kids, which is obviously what motivates most people to participate in Halloween at all. When I was at Chiswick House a couple of weekends ago I sat near a couple of young British moms (or "mums") who were talking about how to costume their children for the day.

In the Guardian, a writer recently compiled a list of do's and don'ts for trick-or-treating, for those uncertain how to proceed. There were some funny comments on the article from readers about their own experiences with Halloween:

"Yesterday I was in the park with the spaniels and two people appeared. Or rather, one person and a crocodile. Yes, here was a person in an inflatable crocodile suit, complete with tail swishing back and forth. It failed to freak me out but it scared the crap out of one of my dogs."

Anyway, as usual, Dave and I plan to keep our heads down tonight. I didn't buy any candy and we don't have a pumpkin. We haven't had a trick-or-treater since moving to London, and I doubt they'll start now. But just in case, we'll stick to our annual routine -- turn off the porch light and hide in the back of the house, watching television. (Pretty much our nightly routine, come to think of it!)

16 comments:

Frances said...

I have no interest in Halloween. It certainly wasn't a thing when I was young, and not even when my boys were growing up! (Youngest is 31)
Some years ago we answered the door to a group of teenagers ( about 5or 6 of them)...not dressed up at all....who said trick or treat. My husband , being the man he is, started giving them a lecture on protection rackets. One lad was showing that he had a knife in his hand, at which point a neighbour came up our drive behind them as they had pulled shrubs out in his garden. Suddenly they decided it might be wise to go ! We phoned the police and the next morning one of the lads was brought by his father to apologise. You can see why I don't think much of the custom !!

Yorkshire Pudding said...

If neighbourhood kids knock on our door it's difficult to tell them to "**** off" as their parents are usually hovering nearby and I don't think they'd appreciate that. I must get some unripe plums in as potential treats if we have any callers tonight.

David said...

Wow, you do lead an exciting life if that is your nightly routine! And I don't approve of Halloween either, but when the parents (who are our neighbours) are standing 10 metres away, it is hard to say no. Talk about being blackmailed into giving out sweets!

crafty cat corner said...

You just would not believe the amount of children that we get knocking on the door, hoards of them, really.
We have to go down stairs to the front door so its a good excuse not to answer, lol
I suppose being long in the tooth I can remember when Halloween was not practiced in this country and so am not a fan, but my grandkids love it.
Love the pumpkins on the wall by the way.
Briony
x

Jennifer said...

Steve! How could you?! An American living in London hiding from potential trick or treaters and not buying any candy?.....for shame! Haha.

I think it's wonderful that a young country like ours has something that kids on the other side of the pond want to adopt. And why not? Trick or treating is fun. For me, giving out candy is fun, too. I enjoy the costumes and the excitement. Not that we ever get very many kids at our current home but I always have some candy bars on hand just in case!

Anonymous said...

I see from the comments many mixed feeling on Halloween, personally I have not experienced a dark side to Halloween, here it is mostly celebrated with an afternoon party in the village hall, houses are to far apart fir door to door, rural living, it’s just for children,

Ms. Moon said...

I sort of like Halloween. It's a holiday that all I'm expected to do is provide candy if anyone does show up and when I lived in town I always enjoyed seeing the little ones who came to the door, all of them so cute and so excited to be out at dark, getting CANDY by the bagful, being pretend scary and pretend scared. No religious connotations, no need to feel "thankful" or spiritual in the least, just silliness and creativity and even if bigger kids came, they always seemed a little embarrassed and mumbled a thank-you when they got their treats. Perhaps I just remember how it was when I was a kid and how thrilling it seemed to be.
Can't comment on the resentment of Brits not appreciating the custom of trick-or-treating creeping across the pond but hey- America sure has exported some worse things.

ellen abbott said...

We haven't had a single kid come to our door for the 10 or 11 years we have had the country house. it's a small neighborhood and mostly older residents though there was one child of an age but if her parents took her trick or treating it wasn't in this neighborhood. the 40 or so years we lived in the city, some years we would get none, some years anywhere from 5 to a dozen. our neighborhood didn't seem safe to parents I guess and they went elsewhere. (it was a safe neighborhood, just mixed race working class). When our kids were growing up we did decorate for the holiday and I made their costumes up until they decided they were too old. they always managed to come home with way too much candy.

robin andrea said...

Tonight we'll be hiding like you and Dave. Porch light off, shades drawn, lights out and doors closed. We have given out Halloween candy in the past, but decided we've had enough and just want a quiet night. The little goblins, witches, and ghosts will be out all over town today, so we'll get to go out and see the festivities without having to answer the door every two minutes tonight. Love those creative pumpkins!

Red said...

I learned something from your post today and it wasn't about Halloween. My English born wife always writes "Mum" I hate it. Now I know why she writes mum. I also learned some things about Halloween but like you I try to avoid all the fun of Halloween.

Sharon Anck said...

The pumpkin art work is amazing. I think a few might have been influenced by Yayoi Kusama with the dots but I love them all. Very creative. I haven't had any trick-or-treaters since I moved to the apartment. I'll keep a low profile too, just in case.

Colette said...

I love Halloween, for the same reasons Ms. Moon says above. I used to like it even more when my adult friends would have costume parties. I'm a kid at heart.

The Bug said...

I love those groovy pumpkins! I totally forgot to dress up today. It's not a thing where I work, but I had threatened to come in wearing my Professor McGonagall hat. Dang it - now I have to wait until next year.

When we were in Xenia, Mike LOVED dressing up & handing candy out to kids. Last year we bought some candy, but didn't have anyone come to the door. This year there are more kids in our neighborhood, so it's possible they could come by. We'll see.

Catalyst said...

Those pumpkins are great. You have some talented kids there. I think I approve of your Halloween plans. I told SWMBO the other day that I don't think we'll participate this year. She accused me of wanting all the candy she bought for myself! How could she???

Tara Crowley said...

I like Halloween when I get to spend it with my grandkids. But without them? Meh. Now that I live in a retirement community, the need to turn off the porch light and hide in the back is completely gone. There was a 'do' in the auditorium today in which I picked up several pieces of chocolate candy. Now I'm feeling poorly after eating it all. Happy Halloween to me.

jenny_o said...

I LOVE those pumpkins, especially the one with the black and white checkered pattern.

Halloween is over for another year here. We had a fraction of the trick-or-treaters that we used to get when our kids were young. The usual number then was 120-130. Tonight it was 39. I felt kind of sad. I like to see the little ones all decked out and excited. On the plus side, I didn't fall down the stairs. Yet.