Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween

Love it or hate it, there's no getting away from Halloween:


As you’ll know, Halloween is HUGE in the States. According to one Halloween costume company there are 41 million potential Trick or Treaters this year (aged 5-14). People will spend $1.21 BILLION on adults’ costumes, $1 Billion on kids’ costumes and $310 million on pet costumes.Yes, that's right - pet costumes.  87.78 million houses will give out candy and everyone will consume an average of 1.2 pounds of the stuff. As I said, HUGE.

It’s also quite good fun; people get into the spirit and in my neighbourhood, will decorate their houses on the outside, and perhaps sit on the front porch to greet the kids coming round. Either that or they’re just making sure that no one takes more than a few pieces. Last year we had kids with pillowcases in which to carry their booty.

All the parties happened on Saturday night so there were quite a few “sights” walking round the streets. I may have mentioned in previous years that Halloween costumes here don’t have to be spooky. Kids dress as anything from a Mario brother to a knight in shining armour, and grown men get the chance to dress in women’s clothing without people looking askance at them.
I, for one, went all out this year with the help of a 2nd hand psychedelic cat suit and a large wig. I went to a party where there was also karaoke, so my look was 70’s Disco Queen. Unfortunately I ended up looking more like a Drag Queen, but it’s all good fun.
 Looking more drag than disco, with my Sith date.


Halloween is alive and well in Horsham.  Although I detected a lack of enthusiasm in the run up to the celebrations—merely a few window displays in some of the local shops—today it seemed as if someone fired the starting pistol on all things Halloween.

While wandering around town today many of the store clerks and market stall staff were dressed in costumes and there was a celebration at the band stand where groups of children in Halloween garb got to show off their stuff.  While walking across the street to get a Chinese take away this evening, I saw young people in fancy dress going into town and after dinner I heard the raucous celebrations and saw the fireworks display (which I enjoyed from the balcony while smoking my postprandial cigar) taking place at the local cricket ground.

In addition to this, on the telly tonight, Strictly Come Dancing, QI and some other popular shows have aired (or are going to air) Halloween-themed programs.  Considering that (with the exception of Strictly, which is a live-ish show) these episodes were filmed back in July, it is obvious they have been thinking about Halloween for some time.

What I do not see in any of this is any trick-or-treating, and that is how it should be.  Don’t get me wrong; I love that aspect of Halloween and consider it the very essence of the holiday in the US.  But that’s the thing: Trick-or-Treating is American and is therefore looked upon with misgiving over here.  To have kids showing up at your house demanding candy is akin to a confectionary shakedown.  An article I read while waiting for my take-away—written by the Sussex Police—advised parents, if they were going to take their children trick-or-treating, to visit only the homes of friend or relatives (i.e. people who were expecting them).

So Halloween is not ignored over here, it’s a major part of the autumn celebrations, which do not include pestering strangers for candy.

Oh, and there’s no TPing, either.

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  1. You are right, Mike. Trick or treating is American and not big over here.
    Each to their own?
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  2. I've got my bowl of candy waiting by the door and my pumpkins carved sitting on the front porch. I'm almost tempted to write a sign and post it on my door- "An American lives here, therefore, FREE CANDY!"

    On a side note, I had to ask my neighbor whether or not the teenagers would smash my pumpkins. His response? "No, but they might nick 'em."

  3. We have had to stop putting candy out in anything other than cheap plastic bowls because the nice ones got nicked!
    The real problem with putting the pumpkins outside is the bloody squirrels. They just sit and chew great big holes in them. WE've got the fattest squirrels on the planet at the moment!

  4. What's TPing?

    I'm not a fan of Halloween - as a child we just did ducking apples, so if we did anything in our house, that's what we'd do. I don't answer the door on that day either.

    We've had problems with teenagers throwing eggs and stuff round here and using it as an excuse to behave badly. Britain should stick to Guy Fawkes night, and the let the US do their thing (which, by all accounts, they do very well - not like our version).

    I don't get wanting to celebrate evil stuff, though I recognise that that's totally not what it's about in the States, so if I was there I'd have a lot more tolerance for it.

  5. I was wondering when someone was gong to ask about TPing ;) It's the American Halloween tradition of throwing rolls of toilet paper into trees and over houses, draping them with ribbons of toilet paper. That act is called TPing, as in, "Let's go TP Joey's house."

  6. not sure about the no TPing, Mike. It just might be a little tame for British kids. Before the American tradition of Halloween took off, we had mischief night. You went around to people's houses asking for 'money for the Guy.' If they refused, you played a trick on them. Our favorite was the old 'dog poo wrapped in newspaper and set alight on the doorstep' but some kids went much further. If mischief might has now died out, you're in luck!

  7. I don't know if handing out candy is strictly an American thing. My sister-in-law is Australian and lives there still with my brother. They hand out candy to trick or treaters every Halloween.


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