Thursday, October 31, 2019

Halloween Hijinks

It's Halloween, once again, and Dave and I will undoubtedly celebrate the way we do every year -- by turning out the lights and hiding in the back of the house to avoid trick-or-treaters.

(This is actually the way we spend most nights, but never mind.)

It's unlikely we'd get any trick-or-treaters anyway. In the eight years we've lived in England, we've never had one come to our door. But apparently, in some neighborhoods, it does happen.

Halloween isn't traditionally a big deal in England. (Despite the fact that it originated here back in the time of the ancient Celts.)

Some of our neighbors have decorated, though, as you can see from these photos. You might recognize that door above -- I photographed it last year too.

I've seen several houses displaying carved pumpkins:

The Guardian ran a story the other day about the food waste associated with carving pumpkins. I must admit, as an American, I found it a peculiar article. I understand that food waste is a serious problem, but I've always considered carving to be the primary purpose of pumpkins like those above. Eating them seems purely secondary!

I don't know anyone who makes pumpkin pie, for example, using a raw pumpkin. Most people go the easy route and opt for a can of pumpkin puree. Which obviously contains pumpkins, so I guess you could argue they'd be better off canned than carved...

Anyway, they're such killjoys over there at The Guardian. (As a subscriber, I say that with affection.)

One of my neighbors has these feet protruding from her garden -- a nod, I suspect, to the Wicked Witch of the East.

Even Mrs. Kravitz has a giant black spider web in her front window! Unfortunately I can't photograph it without looking like I'm pointing a camera into her house, and I don't want the cops called on me.

Olga doesn't know what to make of any of it.

I will acknowledge the day at school by wearing special socks, which Dave bought me, that have little jack-o-lanterns all over them. That's about all the costume I can tolerate.


  1. How much water is involved in the production of so many pumpkins in the western world? And what about the carbon footprint caused by transport, farming pumpkins and their inevitable rotting? If I were a malnourished human being - trying to find enough to eat in The Third World - I would be appalled by all the waste that surrounds Halloween. Sorry if I sound like a "Guardian" devotee but I say Stuff Halloween!

  2. You could make the same argument about Christmas trees, though, couldn't you? Is it really waste if it's part of a holiday celebration -- or is it just use? I'm not a fan of Halloween or pumpkin-carving myself, but if I had kids I'm sure I'd be doing it all!

  3. Instead of hiding out the back with the lights off why not fasten one of those skeletons to your front door. Attach a note written in vivid blood coloured paint telling any would be door knockers this is how they will look when they are found in a years time, in the the cellar below your house.
    See how that works...

  4. Indeed, I would make the same argument about Christmas trees. It is a mass industry now - more about money than celebration. With my kids we made imitation pumpkins from papier-mâché and brought home fallen branches to decorate - in place of Christmas trees.

  5. There are members of my Irish family who would go a step further and not only celebrate Samhain (which is really just a harvest festival which invloves candle light and lanterns and bonfires to ward off the darkness) but also Mongfhionn, the witch goddess who was killed on Samhain.

    None it has anything to do with pumpkins. They are all American and you can do what you want with them. The Irish immigrants to the US celebrated Samhain and initially used carved turnips apparently to make their Samhain lanterns.

    You can cook great stuff with the carved pumpkin flesh. And roast the seeds. In Flanders (Belgium) there's an annual pumpkin festival, slightly different but equally ancient tradition, and you can eat yourself silly. Also great fun, worth a visit:

  6. I think the pumpkins that are grown for Jack-o-lanterns have much thinner flesh than "eating" pumpkins do.
    I have done ZERO for Halloween this year. I haven't even purchased an "emergency" bag of candy.
    Oh well.

  7. pie pumpkins are different than the big carving pumpkins. they are smaller and yes, I made a pumpkin pie from an actual pumpkin once. so much work. as for food waste, maybe they are referring to the resources it takes to grow pumpkins because they aren't really considered a food. at least I don't know anyone who buys pumpkins to actually eat them. we don't get trick or treaters. not out here and rarely when we lived in the city. I made jack-o-lanterns out of cantaloupes one year when I was on a river trip on Halloween.


  8. the first photo shows that someone had lots if creativity to decorate their house.

  9. I was going to wear my witch paraphernalia today, but opted for jack-o-lantern earrings instead. Much easier to work in - ha! I wish I had fun socks too though!

  10. Tonight we'll be hiding in the back rooms of our house with the lights out as well. Plenty of our neighbors up and down the street have lots of decorations and candy to make up for our utter lack of interest. We are grateful for their ongoing support of this knock-knock BOO season.

  11. I often make pumpkin pies from real pumpkins, but not from Halloween carved ones. I buy small pie pumpkins for that task. The carving pumpkins get pretty gross and even burned on the inside.

  12. after Halloween, the smashed pumpkins litter the neighborhoods but it only takes about two days for them to be eaten by the wild things out there, Raccoons and possum and deer most likely. I have made a pie from a real pumpkin and it was so much work! Not worth it really, not when we can just pick one up from the coop.
    Mrs. Kravitz would tempt me to prank her on a regular basis. Just little pranks, you know, for satisfaction.
    Olga is SO CUTE!!!

  13. Where did all this halloween stuff come from. When I was small it wasn't heard of. I was talking with Tom this morning and we were saying that if asked most people would not have a clue what it was about.

  14. Its OK Olga Girl - You'll Find Treats At Home - Good Girl

    Happy Halloween

  15. I love that display in the first photo. Very creative. And some of those pumpkins are beautifully carved. If I'm not mistaken, my mother made a pie from a carved pumpkin just once and decided it was way too much work. I love your costume, it's way more elaborate than mine.

  16. I was told that pumpkins for pies and pumpkins for jack-o-lanterns are two different kinds of pumpkins. I tried cooking the pumpkin from a jack-o-lantern one year and it was very watery and fibrous, much more so than a cooking pumpkin. Here pumpkin is grown as one of the crops that sustain our farmers. But to that, I will argue that if they weren't allowed to grow pumpkins, they'd find something else, and it might be a better alternative. Just like Christmas trees :D

    I prefer paper decorations that can be recycled. The amount of plastic stuff being sold to decorate for a few days a year is fast approaching (maybe exceeding?) the amount for Christmas, and I wish it would change for the better.

  17. I have ruled that we will not turn on the outside light tonight so as to discourage any possible trick or treaters. I was careful to make that ruling AFTER Judy bought the Halloween candy! I'm no fool.

  18. I drove around our neighborhood yesterday and saw perhaps a fourth of the outside decorating that I saw last year.
    I don't expect any kids this year but bought candy just in case. The college here in Dillon has a big to do and most parents take their children there. We are having frigid temperatures, so I think that will further thin the flock.

  19. I love the legs sticking up from the dirt! Nice shots!

  20. John: Thanks! It may be a one-time thing. :)

    Alphie: LOL! The police would show up to search the cellar! (It would be a short search, since we don't have a cellar.)

    YP: Well, those ARE good (and sustainable!) substitutes. I've always been bothered by the waste associated with Christmas trees. We never buy one ourselves.

    Sabine: It makes sense that pumpkins would be an American thing, since squashes originated on that continent. (North or South America --I can't remember.) People often eat the seeds while carving the pumpkin, but I think the big pumpkins made for carving are different from smaller eating pumpkins (as someone else said here). Interesting about your Irish relatives -- I've never heard of that witch goddess!

    Ms Moon: Yeah, we did zero too!

    Ellen: Yeah, I can see how the resources would be an issue -- but as you and Ms. Moon said, the end product of most pumpkin farming isn't edible anyway, so it's not really food waste as much as resource waste. (The Guardian was measuring it in tons of pumpkin flesh!)

    Red: Yeah, I love that house! Particularly the little cat skeletons.

    Bug: Earrings are definitely a more manageable costume!

    Robin: As it turned out, and as expected, no one knocked on our door. I hope you were as fortunate!

    Colette: Yeah, they always get candle wax in them. That would be one waxy pie!

    Linda Sue: Good point about the wild things! They need food too!

    Briony: I fear America is to blame for the spread of modern Halloween festivities, although as I said the holiday originated here back in ancient times. I'm not sure why it's become more popular in recent years, except American pop culture so widely influences the whole planet, for better or worse.

    Padre: Happy Halloween to you too! Don't worry -- Olga gets plenty of treats. :)

    Sharon: We could never cook with carved pumpkins in Florida. After they sat outside for a night or two they were always full of bugs!

    Jenny-O: I totally agree about the plastic. I don't understand why people buy all that junk. But I DO think people are becoming more aware and more knowledgeable about plastic use. It's just a slow process.

    Catalyst: Ha! Well, you're entitled to your own tricks and treats, aren't you?!

    Penelope: Interesting! Why do you think there's less decorating this year? I think some parents DO prefer to take their kids somewhere where they know the other participants. Too many scary urban myths about Halloween candy!

    E: Aren't those legs great? Although if they're supposed to be the Wicked WItch of the East, I think they should be lying horizontally, not standing up vertically. That's my only complaint. :)