05 November, 2010

A week of celebrations: Part 1 Trick or treat?

They really take Hallowe'en seriously over here. Really really seriously. People have been preparing for weeks. And asking us whether we are "ready" since early September. I have kept explaining that back home Hallowe'en is seen as a bit of a commercial American import, and is often just an excuse for the scarier elements in the area to come knocking. I will admit to having hidden in the house in London with the lights out on several previous Hallowe'ens and so would you have, had you lived where I did.

Anyway. Round our way - America that is - it's a big deal. Houses are decorated, people are even more decorated. The teachers turned up in full costume on the Friday beforehand. In some cases this also meant facepaint for the whole day. They had a Hallowe'en parade at school which I didn't go to. I'm a bit bah humbug about the whole thing. But the children like it so we blagged our way into a friend's home for the evening and tagged along with her family, getting a lesson in the whole trick or treating thing on the way. I was planning to go as, and I quote, "a grumpy European with no sense of humour" which was actually how M the Hallowe'en fanatic friend described her (also British) husband. But M wasn't having any of it. Said husband was Perseus. Tom was vaguely Sheikhish. And I was a sight.

We wended our way through the streets of Bernal Heights collecting absurd amounts of sweets, past spooky houses with spooky residents. There were haunted vans (two), pumpkins galore, at least one gladiator, several bumblebees, a vending machine (that's a person dressed as a vending machine), many fairies, a lot of ghosts and quite a few ghouls. I like that everyone is so goodnatured even when faced with hordes of overexcited pint-sized devils, and that people don't necessarily dress up as scary things. The girls had a great time and got thoroughly into the swing of things, rushing up front steps to grab the goodies. They are rationing themselves and should still be working their way through Skittles and Reese's Cups in late February.

1 comment:

just Gai said...

I'm split between bah humbug and enthusiasm for Hallowe'en. It's a shame that, along with every other festival, it's been usurped by commerce and turned into an occasion to to spend vast sums on wasteful tat. So, while I have never taken my children trick or treating, we have carved pumpkins (carefully saving the flesh to make soup) and baked bat-shaped biscuits (complete with black icing and bloody fangs) to hand out to the children whose parents do allow them to parade the streets.

In the face of rampant commercialism we have to chose between abandoning festivities altogether, or rediscovering their origins in an era when it was possible to celebrate without the need of supermarkets.